Small businesses must verify workers' legality

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Small businesses in South Carolina will have to follow a new law starting Thursday.

This law is already in effect for businesses with 100 or more employees and it is part of the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act.  The new law requires businesses to verify the legal status of new employees.

Chip Bellamy with AccuChex works with payroll issues every day and his business provides payroll services to other businesses in the Grand Strand. More than a year ago he helped larger clients figure out the law, and since then he has been doing the same thing for smaller clients.

"Our clients have called with concerns because they didn't understand the law because you know how laws are written," Bellamy said. "They're not really understandable. The nice thing about it we've been able to answer most of those questions."

In addition to the W-4 and I-9 forms already required to hire someone legally, the state immigration law requires employers to verify new workers with the E-Verify federal system or with a worker's driver's license or identification card. The verification is not required for workers hired before July 1.

Bellamy said the verification is required after a worker is hired and should not be used during the hiring process.

"It is not to be used as a screening tool," Bellamy explained. "Once you hire the person and put them in place and they've accepted the job, then you go to E-Verify to verify their employment."

Bellamy said the verification process is not a complicated. However, he feels it would not be necessary if the national immigration laws made it easier for immigrants to be here legally.

"That's my biggest issue right now," Bellamy said. "There needs to be something to make it a lot quicker [to become an American citizen.]

Any business found in violation of the law will be given 72 hours to fix the problem. After that, the business could be fined $100-$1000 for each illegal worker.

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