A Phoenix employment attorney is advising Arizona employers that they can still hire as usual, even though E-Verify is closed to business.

Under the E-Verify system, an employer checks an employee’s eligibility to work legally only after first hiring the person, said the attorney, Julie Pace.

“Until you get the ‘nonconfirmed,’ they (new hires) can work,” Pace said. “You can hire; you can do I-9 forms; you can run everything. It just means no one will answer you in the government.”

She said she encourages companies to do things as they normally would when hiring, and just wait for the government to get back to work.

Arizona law requires that employers check the citizenship status of new hires against E-Verify. But the federal database, run by the Department of Homeland Security, was one of the casualties of the partial shutdown of the federal government starting Tuesday.

The E-Verify website now notifies visitors that during the shutdown there will be no action on new companies trying to enroll in E-Verify, on verification of employment eligibility, or on viewing or taking action on any case.

The E-Verify website said it will “provide additional guidance once we reopen.” Until then, it said, employers will still need to complete I-9 forms within three days of an employee starting to work, although time periods for disputes will be extended until after the government is up and running.

Amelia Cramer, chief deputy in the Pima County Attorney’s Office, said “county attorney offices are authorized to investigate reports of violations” of the Legal Arizona Workers Act, the law that requires use of E-Verify. But she said Pima County investigates only when someone reports that an employer is not using the system and is knowingly hiring people ineligible to work in the U.S.

Nonetheless, the uncertainty comes at a bad time, said Brian Turmail, spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. The construction market is just starting to improve in Arizona, he said.