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ETA News Release: [02/29/2012]
Contact Name: Joshua Lamont
Phone Number: (202) 693-4661
Release Number: 12-0389-NAT

US Department of Labor announces H-2A worker program updates

New resources and updates part of ongoing commitment to optimizing performance and customer service

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration today announced an annual change to allowable charges for meals and subsistence reimbursements, and a nonmaterial change to wage rate determinations for the H-2A worker program. Both notices will be published in the March 2 edition of the Federal Register and can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/O9 and http://s.dol.gov/OA.

The allowable meal charge is the maximum amount that employers seeking H-2A workers may assess their workers for daily meals provided by the employer. The rates are based upon annual data for the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for food. The annual average percentage change for the CPI-U for food from 2010 to 2011 was 3.7 percent and, accordingly, the 2012 maximum amount an employer may charge a worker for meals provided has been raised to $11.13 per day.

In addition, the H-2A program regulations require employer reimbursement of subsistence expenses, which include both meals and lodging that may be required during travel to and from a work site.

The department's Employment and Training Administration, as part of an ongoing effort to improve program operations and customer service, has updated the H-2A Employer Handbook, FAQs, and related materials related to the H-2A worker program. The department's Wage and Hour Division similarly made clarifying changes to its H-2A program materials, including workers' rights resources, fact sheets and workplace posters.

The department also announced today a nonmaterial change in the frequency of surveys conducted to establish minimum wage rates paid by employers to H-2A workers and workers in corresponding employment.

The H-2A temporary worker program allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of U.S. workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature. For more information on the H-2A program, visit http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/h-2a.cfm.