Complete Guide to Human Resources and the Law, 2013 Edition
The Complete Guide to Human Resources and the Law will help you navigate complex and potentially costly Human Resources issues. You'll know what to do (and what not to do) to avoid costly mistakes or oversights, confront HR problems - legally and effectively - and understand the rules.
Anticipating that the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level might not occur for several years, the US Chamber of Commerce will continue to oppose state and local efforts to address illegal immigration. Immigration reform at the federal level is unlikely until businesses are faced with a lack of workers, said Chamber President Tom Donahue at a conference the largest business federation hosted, which examined the impact of state and local immigration laws. "To really get it done," Donahue said, "I think it has to hurt more." In the meantime, Donahue pledged to challenge state laws that businesses could find onerous and to support separate pieces of federal legislation to change current visa rules.
To demonstrate the potential economic effects of state immigration laws, the chamber sponsored a study focusing on five states -- Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Most immigration-related laws at the state level have been enacted within the past 18 months, the report noted, so it is too early to fully measure their impact. The Illinois and Arizona laws do not take effect until January 1, 2008.
Arizona, according to the report, puts the obligation on employers to verify through the federal E-Verify program that employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. Violators could face significant penalties. The Legal Arizona Workers Act (H.B. 2779) contains no "safe harbor" for employers who rely on false documents presented by illegal workers. As a result, the report surmises that employers cannot be assured that reasonable actions on their part to comply with the law will prevent violations. Small employers may be more vulnerable to errors, and compliance could add extra costs to all businesses.
Colorado also requires businesses to affirm that all new workers are authorized to work in the United States. The law prohibits awards of public contracts to contractors who knowingly employ, contract with or subcontract with unauthorized persons. The report predicted that employers who fail to comply with the law may face the loss of public contracts that could effectively put them out of business.
The Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 55/1, et seq) takes a very different approach. That state's law prohibits employers from enrolling in an employment eligibility program until the program is deemed reliably accurate. This could create difficulties for multi-state employees that otherwise participate in E-Verify and other verification programs, according to the report.
Oklahoma's Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 (H.B. 1804) has adopted a very broad approach to illegal immigration. That state's law bars certain aid to illegal immigrants, prohibits in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrants and allows state and local governments to enforce federal immigration laws, according to the report. Contractors who do not participate in an employment verification system would not be eligible for public contracts.
Because of the broad sweep of the Oklahoma law, the effects are likely to be widespread, the report said. Anecdotally, immigrants appear to be dropping out of site, resulting in a tight labor market and higher wages in the construction industry. Overall, the cost of construction projects could rise, the report predicted.
Pennsylvania, the fifth state studied, prohibits companies from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants for any publicly supported project. The Pennsylvania law, the report said, could cause a decrease in competition among contractors because some may decline to bid on public service projects, ultimately leading to higher costs.
The study was authored by Peter Creticos, president and executive director of the Institute for Work and the Economy, a think tank on workforce development. In addition to the Chamber, the study was sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Roofing Contractors Association.
The US Chamber of Commerce hosted the conference examining the impact of state and local immigration laws on December 7 in Washington, DC. The report, entitled Assessing the Economic Effects of State Laws Addressing Foreign-Born Unauthorized Workers, can be found at: Website
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