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New employee verification bill introduced

April 24 2009

New legislation, "The New Employee Verification Act," aims to create a new electronic system for checking whether workers are legally eligible to work in the U.S. The bill is backed by the Society for Human Resource Management, and was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Employers would enter data through their states' directories of new hires programs that they already use, according to SHRM. The directories are used by states to help locate parents that owe child support.

In addition, the bill would allow employers to use another check using biometric features, such as thumbprints, to verify workers' identities. It would also protect employers who "use subcontractors without knowing that the subcontractor hires or continues to employ unauthorized workers," according to the HR Initiative for a Legal Workforce, a group representing human resource professionals.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security e-Verify program also allows employers to check whether employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S., but the program has been criticized for concerns such as high error rates. SHRM and other organizations have sued to stop a requirement that all federal contractors use e-Verify.

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