(KCPW News) A new law requiring Utah businesses with 15 or more employees to use a federal program, called E-Verify, to check the residency status of all new hires goes into effect Thursday. But a voluntary online registry that lists businesses that comply with the new law went live yesterday. Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Francine Giani is guessing more than 50,000 businesses will choose to register.
“It’s a shot in the dark,” she says. “We didn’t have any background; this is all brand new, no other state has it, and we just took a shot in the dark that maybe we’d get about 55,000 businesses that might voluntarily register. We’ll see what happens.”
Juan Ruiz, president of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, doubts many members of the public will actually use the registry to check which businesses use E-Verify. However, he believes most businesses will decide to take the additional steps needed to comply with the new law, even businesses that cater to the Hispanic community. And he worries what the impact will be on employees.
“If you are a small business and you have 15 employees, and you are thinking about just letting one of your employees go, this would be the perfect time to do that,” Giani says. “If you have 14 employees and you are thinking about hiring a 15th employee, you most likely will not do that.”
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, only one business had registered with the Department of Commerce website. Registration costs $3 per business, which pays for the cost of maintaining the database. Registration is voluntary, and the new law doesn’t require the Department of Commerce to ensure only those who actually are using E-Verify are listed on the registry. There are also no penalties in the law for businesses that don’t use E-Verify, even though it will technically be required as of Thursday.