Agriculture businesses often need additional farm labor for harvest, planting, and sometimes even the entire season. Some farm owners use H-2A workers to staff up their operations for the busy seasons. The H-2A temporary agricultural program establishes a means for agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring non-immigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. However, there are many requirements for hiring and employing H-2A workers. Keep reading to learn the top things to consider when hiring H-2A workers.
The work must be full time, at least 35 hours per work week, and the work must be seasonal or temporary in nature (normally lasting 10 months or less). The H-2A workers are also guaranteed at least 3/4 of the total working days stipulated in the contract.
H-2A workers must be paid at least the amount of the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR - https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/adverse.cfm). Also, all United States workers in similar positions must be paid at least the rate the H-2A workers are receiving. H-2A workers must be paid and supplied with hours/earnings statements on a weekly basis.
Employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage for all employees.
Employers must supply the H-2A workers with housing at no cost to covered workers in accordance with the Department of Labor guidelines. The housing must be inspected and certified to meet local and/or state standards. Employer-provided or secured housing must meet all applicable safety standards.
Employers must provide daily transportation between the workers’ living quarters and the employer’s worksite at no cost to covered workers living in employer-provided housing. Employer-provided transportation must meet all applicable safety standards, be properly insured, and be operated by licensed drivers.
The employer must reimburse workers for reasonable costs incurred for inbound transportation once the worker completes 50% of the work contract period. Upon completion of the work contract, the employer must either provide or pay for the covered worker’s return transportation.
Employers are required to either provide each covered worker with three meals per day, at no more than a DOL-specified cost, or to furnish free and convenient cooking and kitchen facilities where workers can prepare their own meals.
Job qualifications and requirements must include all the work that the H-2A worker will be performing. For example, if you want the H-2A worker to mow, you must include mowing under the job qualifications/requirements; otherwise, you cannot ask the H-2A worker to complete that task.
Before you decide to hire H-2A workers, carefully consider the requirements, policies, and costs involved. Many have found this program to be a valuable and cost-effective solution to seasonal worker needs. Just be sure you understand what you are signing up for when you begin the process, and be ready to fulfill all requirements.
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