DOL Proposes Changes to the H-2A Program

July 25, 2019

On Monday, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule to modernize the H-2A program. The changes are responsive to stakeholder concerns and expected to enhance employer access to a legal source of agricultural labor, while maintaining protection for the U.S. workforce and enforcement against fraud and abuse.

The proposal includes requiring the use of electronic filing of applications for Temporary Employment Certification to help reduce costs and burden, replaces the 50% rule with a 30-day rule requiring employers to provide employment for eligible U.S. workers for 30 calendar days from the employer’s first date of need, and revises the methodology used to establish prevailing wage. The Department proposes calculating wage rates by agricultural occupation.

The rule would also allow staggered entry of H-2A workers. Employers would be able to stagger the entry of workers under a single Application for Temporary Employment Certification. The rule is intended to give employers the flexibility to accommodate changing weather and production conditions and the seasonal nature of agricultural production.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement: “President Trump once again shows his commitment to helping America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers continue to be the most productive in the world by increasing their access to a stable and legal workforce. The proposed rule will increase access to a reliable legal agricultural workforce, easing unnecessary burdens on farmers, increase enforcement against fraud and abuse, all while maintaining protections for America’s workers. When this rule goes into effect, our farmers will be released from unnecessary and burdensome regulations allowing them to do what they do best.”