E-Verify Required for Public Construction Workers

September 2012Articles In the Zone

On July 5, 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law the “Public Works Employment Verification Act” meant to eliminate the use of undocumented workers on public construction projects. SB 367 requires contractors and subcontractors to verify employment eligibility of employees who are working on publicly funded projects.

“Public work” is defined under Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act (P.L. 987, No. 442 ) as meaning “construction, reconstruction, demolition, alteration and/or repair work other than maintenance work, done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of the funds of a public body where the estimated cost of the total project is in excess of $25,000, but shall not include work performed under a rehabilitation or manpower training program.”

Public works contractors and subcontractors must enroll and use the federal E-Verify System to verify employment eligibility of each new employee, effective January 1, 2013. As a precondition of being awarded a contract for a public work, or with respect to a contract that was awarded prior to January 1, 2013, but has not yet been executed, the contractor must provide the public body with a verification form, designated by the Department of General Services, acknowledging its responsibilities and confirming compliance with Act.

Public work contractors, subcontractors and staffing agencies are required to participate. However, “material suppliers” are not included in the definition of subcontractor.

Contractors who violate SB637’s provisions could be subject to various penalties and in some cases fines. A first offense would result in a warning letter; for a second violation, a public works contractor shall be debarred from public work for 30 days; and, for a third (and subsequent) violation, the contractor shall be debarred for not less than 180 days and not more than one year. If it can be demonstrated that an employer willfully violated the law, they would be barred from public projects for three years. Violators may also be subject to civil penalties.

For more information on E-Verify, please visit the firm's immigration blog, Immigration View.