The government shutdown – which has been going on for roughly two weeks – is affecting businesses large and small in myriad ways. However, it's starting to impede one major aspect of every businesses' operations: the hiring process.
The shuttering of the E-Verify website, which was classified as non-essential, has left many recruiters and hiring managers skittish about what steps to take during the hiring process. E-Verify is used by managers and business owners to validate whether or not a potential new employee is qualified to work legally in the U.S., and is run by the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department.
Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, told Businessweek that the loss of the system will force many businesses to grapple with the prospect of uncertain requirements, whether they're hiring for part-time or full-time work.
"Business people are making decisions," Vilsack told the news outlet. "They have to make decisions today, and the reality is that they are faced with this enormous uncertainty. The fact is, when you're faced with uncertainty, you pull back. You don't make decisions you might otherwise make. You don't expand, you don't invest."
The closing of the E-Verify website won't force businesses to halt hiring altogether. Employers must still file I-9 forms for new workers, but the provisions regarding verification of legal employment through E-Verify have been temporarily suspended, according to a posting hosted on the government website. Business owners are also advised to refrain from taking any adverse actions against employees who are involved in E-Verify interim case statuses. Additionally, employees are unable to resolve tentative non-confirmation statuses issued by E-Verify during the shutdown, further complicating the hiring process.
Jerry Howard, chief executive officer of the National Association of Home Builders, told Businessweek that this is a "drag" on the financial sector. It's likely many companies are reticent to hire for important positions, like insurance jobs or risk management jobs, due to the complications posed by E-Verify's shutdown.
Businesses experience huge losses as result of shutdown
Experts are suggesting that the government shutdown is causing many problems, in addition to the hurdles put in front of hiring managers. The Federal Times, citing survey findings, notes that the National Park Service alone has lost millions of dollars due to lost admissions and other fees, for example.
Further, many are now forced to dedicate their time to troubleshooting problems caused directly by the shutdown. Pat Niehaus, an Air Force human resources official and president of the Federal Managers Association, told the Federal Times that she now spends all of her working time dealing with problems and complications caused by the shutdown.
"This is about all I've done for the last three or four weeks," Niehaus told the news outlet.
Business owners everywhere, however are hoping that the shutdown will not have a significant effect on either their profit margins or their hiring practices. Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce in Gainesville, Georgia, recently told the Gainesville Times that he hasn't received any complaints from local businesses as a result of the E-Verify shutdown, perhaps illustrating that managers are retaining positive mindsets in the face of the complications.
Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, also spoke to the Gainesville Times about the shutdown of E-Verify. He feels that most businesses will be able to successfully navigate through the problems posed by the website's absence.
"Employers will simply fill out the I-9 form as usual, and then they will process the new hires through the E-Verify system when it becomes available again," he told the news outlet.