DOL Announces Changes To H-2B Prevailing Wage Calculation Rules

January 20, 2011

The methodology used to calculates the prevailing wages the Labor Department requires employer to pay H-2B workers and United States (U.S.) workers recruited in connection with a temporary labor certification for use in petitioning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to employ a nonimmigrant worker in H-2B status will change effective January 1, 2012. Comments on the Final Regulation published here (Final Regulations) in the January 19, 2011 Federal Register are due March 21, 2011.   Employers using or contemplating using H-2B workers should take into account these new rules when budgeting and projecting workforce costs and assessing the cost-effectiveness and compliance requirements associated with these contemplated relationships.

To comply with its H-2B program obligations, an employer must pay H-2B workers hired in connection with an H-2B application a wage that will not adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers similarly employed. The Labor Department’s H-2B procedures have always provided that adverse effect is prevented by requiring H-2B employers to offer and pay at least the prevailing wage to the H-2B workers and those U.S. workers recruited in connection with the job opportunity.

The Final Regulations are issued largely in response to an August 30, 2010  court order that set aside portions of regulations governing the H-2B temporary worker program issued on December 19, 2009 at 73 Fed. Reg. 78020 (“2008 Final Rule”).  On August 30, 2010, a Federal Court found that the Labor Department violated the Administrative Procedures Act when it issued the 2008 Final Regulations.  See Comit[eacute] de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA) v. Solis, Civil No. 2:09-cv- 240-LP, 2010 WL 3431761 (E.D. Pa.).  In that decision, the Federal District Court ordered the Labor Department to “promulgate new rules concerning the calculation of the prevailing wage rate in the H-2B program that are in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act.  The Final Regulation is issued in response to this order.

Under the Final Regulation, Labor Regulation § 655.10 generally will provide that for temporary labor  certification purposes, the prevailing wage is the highest of the following:

  • The wage rate set forth in the CBA, if the job opportunity is  covered by a CBA that was negotiated at arms’ length between the union  and the employer;
  • The wage rate established under the DBA or SCA for the occupation in the area of intended employment if the job opportunity is  in an occupation for which such a wage rate has been determined; or
  • The arithmetic mean of the wages of workers similarly employed in the occupation in the area of intended employment as determined by  the OES. This computation will be based on the arithmetic mean wage of  all workers in the occupation.

The NPC now only will consider employer provided wage surveys for purposes of determining the prevailing wage in a very limited number of circumstances where the employer is permitted to and makes a request for a prevailing wage determination in accordance with the Final Regulations.

For assistance with assessing or defending your current worker classification, wage and hour or other health care and human resources policies and controls, please contact Cynthia Marcotte Stamer at, 972-419-7188.

For Help With Investigations, Policy Updates Or Other Needs

If you need assistance reviewing your prevailing wage determinations under these, government contracts or other laws, or evaluating, managing or defending your organization’s existing other labor and employment, employee benefit, compensation, compliance or other practices, please contact the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer here or at (469)767-8872 .

Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, management attorney and consultant Ms. Stamer is nationally and internationally recognized for more than 23 years of work helping employers; employee benefit plans and their sponsors, administrators, fiduciaries; employee leasing, recruiting, staffing and other professional employment organizations; and others design, administer and defend innovative workforce, compensation, employee benefit  and management policies and practices. The Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) RPTE Employee Benefits & Other Compensation Committee, a Council Representative on the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits, Government Affairs Committee Legislative Chair for the Dallas Human Resources Management Association, past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Interest Group, Ms. Stamer frequently has worked, extensively on these and other workforce and performance 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.

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Homeland Security Updates List of Nations Whose Nationals Are Eligible for H-2A or H-2B Visas

January 20, 2010

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in conjunction with the United States Secretary of State yesterday announced the countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H–2A and H–2B visa program for the upcoming year. USCIS may only approve H–2A and H–2B petitions for nationals of countries included among this list of countries.   USCIS published the list the Federal Register on January 19, 2010.

The countries included on the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H–2A and H–2B visa programs for one year period beginning January 18, 2010 through January 17, 2011 include: Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

If you have questions about or need assistance evaluating, commenting on or responding to this invitation or other employment, compensation, employee benefit, workplace health and safety, or corporate ethics and compliance practices, concerns or claims, please contact the author of this article, Curran Tomko Tarski LLP Labor & Employment Practice Group Chair Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Ms. Stamer is experienced assisting employers and others to design, administer and defend I-9 and other labor and employment, compensation, employee benefits, corporate ethics and compliance and other risk management practices.  She also advises, assists, trains, audits and defends employers and others regarding the federal and state Sentencing Guideline and other compliance, equal employment opportunity, privacy,  leave, compensation, workplace safety, wage and hour, workforce reengineering, and other labor and employment and defends related audits, investigations and litigation, charges, audits, claims and investigations by the IRS, Department of Labor and other federal and state regulators. Ms. Stamer has advised and represented employers on these and other labor and employment, compensation, employee benefit and other personnel and staffing matters for more than 22 years. Ms. Stamer also speaks and writes extensively on these and other related matters. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience, see here or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see here or contact Ms. Stamer directly.   For additional information about the experience and services of Ms. Stamer and other members of the Curran Tomko Tarksi LLP team, see here.

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