Basics of the H-2A Final Rule

Jim Rogers Labor, Regulation

The 2022 H-2A program final rule was published Oct. 12 and became effective Nov. 14. The vast majority of Florida citrus is harvested by temporary foreign workers within the H-2A program, so the rule has many implications for the state’s citrus industry.

H-2A

Jamie Fussell, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association director of labor relations, discussed the final rule during the Nov. 8 Florida Agricultural Labor Relations Forum. Following are just a few of the areas Fussell addressed:

WAGES
If the adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) increases during the contract period, employers must offer the higher wage. If the AEWR drops during the contract period, employers must continue to pay the higher guaranteed wage rate.

H-2A employers must pay the highest of the AEWR, prevailing wage rate, agreed upon collective-bargaining wage, or the federal or state minimum wage. If the prevailing wage becomes the highest applicable wage during a contract period, the employer must offer that wage.

HOUSING
Rental or public accommodations (hotels, for example) must meet local standards for those standards addressed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA standards apply where there is no local standard, regarding, for example: minimum square footage; storage space; sufficient and sanitary cooking and kitchen facilities, bathroom, laundry and handwashing facilities; lighting; refuse disposal; heating, cooking, and water heating equipment.

MEALS
Kitchen facilities must include space for food preparation, with working appliances and dishwashing facilities. Appliances provided must allow workers to safely prepare three meals per day. Merely providing hot plates, microwaves, community grills or requiring workers to purchase accessories is not sufficient. Meals must be provided in a timely and sanitary fashion. Prepped food shouldn’t be left sitting out. Food must be calorically and nutritionally adequate; merely providing snacks and chips is insufficient. Stipends are not an acceptable substitute for meals
when kitchen facilities are not provided.

Learn more about the final H-2A rule from the Department of Labor.

Source: Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association

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