U.S. Department of Labor proposes new rules for H-2A program
The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) proposed changes to the H-2A temporary agricultural labor certification program on July 15, the department announced in a news release.
The DOL said its proposed changes would modernize H-2A regulations in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns and enhances employer access to a legal source of agricultural labor.
The proposed changes include several major proposals that would streamline and simplify the H-2A application process, strengthen protections for U.S. and foreign workers, and ease unnecessary burdens on employers. For example, the proposed would streamline the H-2A application process by mandating electronic filing of job orders and applications, promoting the use of digital signatures, and providing employers with the option of staggering the entry of H-2A workers on a single application.
The DOL also proposes to strengthen protections for U.S. and foreign workers by enhancing standards applicable to rental housing and public accommodations, strengthening surety bond requirements, expanding DOL authority to use enforcement tools like program debarment for substantial violations of program rules, and updating the methodologies used to determine the Adverse Effect Wage Rates and prevailing wages to ensure U.S. workers similarly employed are not adversely affected.
Finally, the rules would expand access to the H-2A program by revising the definition of agricultural labor or services to include employers engaged in reforestation and pine straw activities, as workers performing these services share many of the same characteristics as traditional agricultural crews. The proposal would also codify and update procedures governing the certification for job opportunities in animal shearing, custom combining, beekeeping, and reforestation.
To view a copy of the proposed rules, visit https://gfb.ag/19H-2Aproposedrules.