The federal government may be back up, but employers will be dealing with the shutdown for at least the next several weeks according to¬†Susan Wurst, VP of Account Management at Tempworks Software.
E-Verify, the federal government‚Äôs electronic system for checking whether new hires can legally work in the U.S., was suspended during the government shutdown,¬†along with¬†scores¬†of other government functions deemed nonessential.
That presented an interesting dilemma for employers enrolled in E-Verify, because they are required to use the system to run checks on new workers within three days of hiring them.
"Our staffing clients started calling in first thing this morning asking how to automatically e-Verify their employees assigned during the shutdown," says Wurst. ¬†"There is a lot of confusion out there and a fear that the three day rule would be retroactively invoked."
Many employers, including most staffing companies, continued hiring aggressively during the shutdown. ¬†Now they're playing catch-up. ¬†A¬†notice posted¬†on the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that employers must still file I-9 forms for new workers, but the ‚Äúthree-day rule‚ÄĚ for running E-Verify was suspended.
The loss of the E-Verify database left many employers in a legal limbo, especially large corporations that are constantly replacing and hiring new employees. Though many states and employers depend on the service, the federal government didn't deem it essential.
David Whitlock, an employment attorney at Chattanooga-based Miller and Martin, tells Chattanooga's timesfreepress.com¬†he was advising clients to set new forms aside after scrutinizing employees' identification during the I-9 process, and then run them through the system all in one big batch, to confirm all new hires are legal workers.
For many staffing pros we talked to, though, the most confounding aspect of the E-Verify shutdown is the fact that such an essential service was cut off in the first place.
They blasted the government for blocking access to the computerized system, which, since it uses almost no manpower, saved the federal government very little money during the shutdown.
The shutdown of E-Verify was also curious on another point, given that other portions of the Department of Homeland Security were still up and running.
Here is at least a partial list of the things that are back up and running following the government shutdown:
- 800,000 Federal workers who were deemed "non-essential" are now back on the job.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, is once again receiving its $7 billion annual appropriation.¬†Over 8.9 million moms and kids under the age of five and¬†living near or below the poverty line¬†rely on the program‚Äôs supplemental vouchers for healthy food, breastfeeding support, infant formula, and other necessities dispensed at clinics nationwide.
- 3.6 million veterans won't miss a disability or pension check.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which monitors the spread of flu and figures out how best to direct vaccine programs around the country, is once again supporting their annual seasonal influenza program.
- The Food and Drug Administration resumes¬†most of its food-safety operations. That includes "routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making."
- The Small Business Administration is once again providing loan guarantees.
- The National Park Service is reopening more than 400 parks, museums and historic sites across the country that were closed during the shutdown. The list included Yosemite National Park in California, Grand Canyon park, Alcatraz in San Francisco, and the Statue of Liberty in New York.
- There will be a restoration of some 1,600 Head Start programs around the country providing education, health,¬†nutrition and other services to roughly 1 million low-income children and their families. Those had been slowly closing during the shutdown.
- The¬†pandacam¬†at the National Zoo is back up and running.
- The National Institutes of Health will once again¬†accept new patients for clinical trials.
- The Bureau of Land Management will once again¬†issue permits for oil and gas companies on public lands.
Obviously these weren't the only consequences of the shutdown. And how painful it was for you depends on your perspective, and how many of these government programs you or your family uses.