HARRISBURG – Sens. Devlin Robinson (R-37) and Chris Gebhard’s (R-48) bill improving enforcement of the construction industry’s use of the federal E-Verify system was included in House Bill 2648, now Act 141 of 2022, and was signed into law today.
The E-Verify system, which is administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security, determines the eligibility of employees – both U.S. and foreign citizens – to work in America. The Public Works Employment Verification Act already requires all public construction contractors, and their subcontractors, to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the legal employment eligibility of new hires. However, despite these requirements, the practice of hiring unauthorized workers continues due to weak enforcement mechanisms.
“Improved implementation of the E-Verify system will ensure contractor employees are eligible and authorized to work in the United States,” Robinson said. “This portion of Act 141 of 2022 levels the playing field for companies with strong business ethics, creating a fairer construction industry with the opportunity to attract new employers and boost Pennsylvania’s economy. I am pleased to see its enactment.”
“The current penalty is so small that it’s not a deterrent for companies that aren’t motivated to follow the law on their own. Unfortunately, until it starts to hurt their business, the illegal practice will continue, Gebhard said. “That’s why our bill is so important; it would finally add some teeth to the law.”
To improve compliance, Act 141 of 2022 makes the financial penalties more meaningful. Rather than the current penalty of $250 – $1,000, violators will face a fine of $2,500 – 25,000. It also streamlines enforcement and reduces the need for time-consuming audits by requiring construction contractors to be enrolled in E-Verify upfront and makes it a punishable offense if they are not.
The new law takes effect in 60 days.
Elizabeth Weitzel, 717-787-5839 (Robinson)
Matthew Urban, 717-787-5708 (Gebhard)