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Consumer Trends

Restaurateurs show signs of warming to E-Verify

With Congress eying proposals to update the regulation of immigrant workers, the National Restaurant Association has released data that shows the restaurant industry is warming to one of the main enforcement tools, the E-Verify system.

The system, long a source of controversy, is already being used by 23 percent of all restaurants, according to a survey jointly conducted last fall by the NRA and Immigration Works USA, a pro-reform coalition of some 25 business and employee groups. E-Verify was designed to enable employers to validate the legality of job applicants almost instantly via the internet, a process that would replace the current reliance on I-9 forms.

For chain restaurants, the usage numbers are higher. Almost half (49 percent) of places owned and operated by the chain are employing E-Verify, and 24 percent of franchisees use it.

One of the major findings, said ImmigrationWorks president Tamar Jacoby, was the indication that restaurateurs could readily shift to E-Verify without dramatic alterations of their hiring and on-boarding processes. “It seems like much less of a shock to their systems” than had been expected, she commented.

She also noted that the use of E-Verify tends to alter the pool of applicants for a restaurant’s jobs, but did not provide statistical gauges of how it changes.

Across the board, about two-thirds of restaurateurs who use E-Verify said they switched to that system voluntarily, while 27 percent said they are required to use the system by state law.

In releasing the results, the NRA stressed that 80 percent of respondents who use E-Verify said they would recommend it to colleagues.

Angelo Amador, the NRA’s VP for labor and workforce policy, suggested that the system still warrants some tweaks. He noted that the reasons most often cited for not using E-Verify are the lack of a human resources department that can handle the screening, and not having internet access at the restaurant level. Amador noted that the NRA favors a simplification of the process to make it easier for small businesses to use it. 

He specifically mentioned the need for a paper-based process for restaurants that aren’t on the net.

The data he released was based on surveys with almost 800 restaurant owners and operators.

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