We wanted to direct folks here in central Ohio to a recent announcement made by the Department of Labor with respect to its H-2B program. The Department of Labor is proposing a change to the program which would impact both employers and workers.
Last week the Department of Labor sent out a release announcing a proposed revision to the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program. According to the announcement, the proposal would "ensure U.S. works receive the same level of protection and benefits as temporary foreign workers (for H-2B) . . . and to provide better access for employers with legitimate labor needs."
The highlight of the changes would be a new registration program. The Department of Labor is hoping this will allow employers to conduct market tests for new labor closer to the point at which they have a need. It would also remove contractors as users of the program.
Other proposed changes to the program include: a national H-2B registry for all postings; requiring documentation from employers as to their U.S. employee recruitments efforts; new transparency measures related to agency agreements and foreign recruiters; the reinstatement of state workforce agencies (SWA) as experts in local labor conditions and recruitment patterns; and lengthening the amount of time during which American workers are required to be recruited.
In the statement Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said: "As our economy continues to recover, it is important for U.S. workers to receive access to all jobs, and that the H-2B program is used as it was intended. At the same time, workers employed through the H-2B program must be treated fairly."
The H-2B program is in place so that foreign nationals can come to the United States to fill nonagricultural jobs and requires a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
To qualify for H-2B classification an employer must establish the need for the worker is temporary, regardless of the position itself. Such positions are usually seasonal, for peak-load or a one-time occurrence. Employers also must demonstrate no U.S. workers are willing and qualified for the position and that the employment will not negatively impact salary and conditions of other U.S. workers.
The Department of Labor will be accepting written comments on the proposal until May 17. Those interested can use www.regulations.gov or send written correspondence to the DOL's Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration: 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room N-5641, Washington, DC 20210.
The entire proposal can be viewed in the March 18 edition of the Federal Register.