New DOL Final Rules Tighten Requirements For Employers To Hire Alien Workers Using H-2B Visas

February 21, 2012

Employers of workers relying on H-2B visas for eligibility to work will need to update their practices to comply with a new Final Rule on the H-2B program issued February 21, 2012 by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division.

Effective April 23, 2012, the Final Rule amends Labor Department regulations governing the certification of the employment of nonimmigrant workers performing temporary or seasonal non-agricultural labor or services and the enforcement of the obligations applicable to employers under the H-2B program.  Among other things, the Final Rule:

  • Revises the process by which employers obtain a temporary labor certification from the Labor Department for use in petitioning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to employ a nonimmigrant worker in H-2B status;
  • Establishes new rules providing increased worker protections for both U.S. and foreign workers;
  • Creates a national electronic job registry for all H-2B job orders to improve U.S. worker access to these temporary jobs;
  • Contains provisions to enhance recruitment of U.S. workers from across the country;
  • Increases the amount of time during which U.S. workers must be recruited and hired; and
  • Requires the rehiring of former employees when available.

U.S. employers need to exercise care to properly manage and maintain appropriate documentation showing compliance with applicable Visa, I-9 eligibility to work, and other applicable Immigration and Customs law requirements impacting their recruitment and employment of foreign and other workers.  Violation of these requirements can expose employers to substantial civil and even criminal liability.  At the same time, all employers also need to tread carefully to manage the significant employment discrimination liabilities that can arise from charges of improper discrimination against workers in violation of national origin, race and other federal and state nondiscrimination laws. See, e.g. Manufacturer’s Excessive I-9 Documentation Triggers Discrimination Liability.

When reviewing the adequacy of existing practices and administering these practices, employers should keep in mind the advisability of ensuring appropriate compliance and risk management of these responsibilities both with regard to workers performing services directly for their organizations in the capacity of employees, as well as workers providing services as independent contractors, leased employees or pursuant to other contracted services arrangements.

When designing and administering these processes, employers also generally should keep in mind that alien workers hired in violation of I-9 eligibility to work requirements generally still continue to enjoy the protection of the employment discrimination, wage and hour, anti-retaliation and other laws that otherwise would apply to other similarly situated employees.  Accordingly, employers should exercise care to properly coördinate their responsibilities to promote their ability to demonstrate proper collection of required eligibility to work documentation, proper classification for worker classification, wage and hour and other laws, and appropriate adherence to nondiscrimination and other employment, tax and other applicable laws and regulations. 

For Help or More Information

If you need help with these or other human resources, risk management or compliance  or internal controls matters, please contact the author of this article, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Board Certified in Labor & employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization,management attorney, author and consultant  Ms. Stamer is nationally and internationally recognized for more than 24 years of work helping private and governmental organizations and their management; employee benefit plans and their sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries; employee leasing, recruiting, staffing and other professional employment organizations; schools and other governmental agencies and others design, administer and defend innovative compliance, risk management, I-9 and other immigration and customs, workforce, compensation, employee benefit, privacy, procurement and other management policies and practices. Her experience includes extensive work helping employers carry out, audit, manage and defend worker classification,union-management relations, wage and hour, discrimination and other labor and employment laws, procurement, conflict of interest, discrimination management, privacy and data security, internal investigation and discipline and other workforce and internal controls policies, procedures and actions. 
Widely published on worker classification and other workforce risk management and compliance concerns, the immediate past-Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee and current Co-Chair of its Welfare Plan Committee, Vice Chair of the ABA TIPS Section Employee Benefits Committee,  a Council Representative of the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, and past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer works, publishes and speaks extensively on management, worker classification, re-engineering, investigations, human resources and workforce, employee benefits, compensation, internal controls and risk management, federal sentencing guideline and other enforcement resolution actions, and related matters.  She also is recognized for her publications, industry leadership, workshops and presentations on these and other human resources concerns and regularly speaks and conducts training on these matters. Her insights on these and other matters appear in the Bureau of National Affairs, Spencer Publications, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other national and local publications. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.

Other Resources

If you found this update of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the other updates and publications authored by Ms. Stamer available including:

About Solutions Law Press

Solutions Law Press™ provides business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other resources, training and education on human resources, employee benefits, compensation, data security and privacy, health care, insurance, and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and other key operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press resources available at www.solutionslawpress.com

THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMER IS INCLUDED TO COMPLY WITH AND IN RESPONSE TO U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT CIRCULAR 230 REGULATIONS.  ANY STATEMENTS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE NOT INTENDED OR WRITTEN BY THE WRITER TO BE USED, AND NOTHING CONTAINED HEREIN CAN BE USED BY YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON, FOR THE PURPOSE OF (1) AVOIDING PENALTIES THAT MAY BE IMPOSED UNDER FEDERAL TAX LAW, OR (2) PROMOTING, MARKETING OR RECOMMENDING TO ANOTHER PARTY ANY TAX-RELATED TRANSACTION OR MATTER ADDRESSED HEREIN.

©2011 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C.  Non-exclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press. All other rights reserved.

 

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