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New Rules for the H-2B Visa Program Effective April 29, 2015

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security released an interim final rule to reinstate and make improvements to the H-2B temporary foreign nonagricultural worker program. A final rule was established regarding the prevailing wage method for the program.

History
The H-2B visa program allows employers or agents in the US who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, an employer must establish—among other things—that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work. Generally, H-2B petitions may only be approved for nationals of countries that are designated as eligible to participate in the H-2B program.
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New Program Rules

Highlights of the new rules include the following:

  • New recruitment and other requirements to broaden the dissemination of job offer information (such as by introducing the electronic job registry and the possibility of additional required contact with community-based organizations);
  • A requirement that a job offer remain open to S. workers until 21 days before the employer’s start date of need;
  • An employer registration process that requires employers to demonstrate their temporary need for labor or services before they apply for a temporary labor certification;
  • Requirements that U.S. workers in corresponding employment receive the same wages and benefits as the H–2B workers, and that employers guarantee employment for a total number of work hours equal to at least three-fourths of the workdays in specific periods for both H–2B workers and workers in corresponding employment;
  • Requirements that employers disclose their use of foreign labor recruiters in the solicitation of workers; provide workers with earnings statements (with hours worked and offered and deductions clearly specified); provide workers with copies of the job order; display a poster describing employee rights and protections; and
  • In the absence of a wage set in a valid and controlling collective bargaining agreement, the prevailing wage will be the mean wage for the occupation in the pertinent geographic area derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics survey (unless the H–2B employer meets the conditions for requesting that the prevailing wage be based on an employer-provided survey).

Both rules are effective as of April 29, 2015. Employers that are affected by these changes may wish to review the interim final rule and final rule.

A version of this article was originally published by HR360.com.

All in One Poster Company is a leading provider of state and federal labor law posters as well as OSHA safety posters in the country.

District of Columbia Approves Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act

The Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2014 (WTPAA) has an effective date of February 26, 2015. The law includes provisions to enhance applicable remedies, fines, and administrative penalties when an employer fails to pay earned wages, to provide for suspension of business licenses of employers that are delinquent in paying wage judgments or agreements, to clarify administrative procedures and legal standards for adjudicating wage disputes, to require the employer to provide written notice to each employee of the terms of their employment, and to maintain appropriate employment records.

DC Wage Theft

Requirements

Written Employment Notice:

As an employer of the District of Columbia, upon hire, you are required to provide a notice to employees of their employment. Also, within 90 days of the effective date of WTPAA, every employer shall furnish each employee with an updated written notice containing the information required. As proof of compliance, every employer shall retain copies of the written notice furnished to employees that are signed and dated by the employer and by the employee acknowledging receipt of the notice. (There are additional requirements for temporary staffing firms.)

This notice must include:

1) The name of the employer and any “doing business as ” (DBA) names used by the employer

2) The physical address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business, and a mailing address if different

3) The telephone number of the employer

4) The employee’s rate of pay and the basis of that rate, including:

  1. Rate by the hour, shift, day, or week (whichever is applicable)
  2. Salary, Piece Rate, or commission (whichever is applicable)
  3. Any allowances claimed as part of the minimum wage, including tip, meal, or lodging allowances
  4. Overtime rate of pay or exemptions from overtime pay
  5. Living wage or exemptions from the living wage
  6. Any applicable prevailing wagesNOTICE OF WAGE THEFT PREVENTION AMENDMENT ACT OF  2014-1

5) The employee’s regular pay day designated by the employer

The Mayor shall make available for employers a sample template of the notice within 60 days of the effective date of the Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2014. (Immediate Notice to new employees containing applicable information based on the guideline above is required regardless of the template release date.) A complete 4-page summary of this act can be downloaded HERE for your reference.

2015 Fall Safety Stand-Down Is Up-and-Running

fall prevention workerCompanies and workers in all 50 states joined the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on May 4 to launch the second annual National Fall Safety Stand-Down.

Through May 15, construction industry employers and employees are encouraged to voluntarily stop work to learn and discuss how to prevent deaths and catastrophic injuries.

fall prevention posterIndustry, business leaders and others — including universities, labor organizations, and community and faith-based groups — have scheduled stand-downs nationwide. The U.S. Air Force is also joining the effort by hosting stand-down events at bases worldwide.

One of the many events already held was led by students at Madison Park echnical-Vocational High School and YouthBuild Boston who have been safely building a low-income, affordable house there since September 2014. On May 5, they traded their tools for notepads and pencils during their own stand-down.

Discussing the importance of fall safety, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said: “People who fall are not just numbers — they are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. The cost of building our nation and economy cannot be the lives of its workforce, and that’s what this Stand-Down is all about.” In 2014, more than 5,000 employers and more than one million workers participated in the record-setting event. Organizers expect to set a new record for participation in 2015.

FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CONSTRUCTION.

In 2013, there were 291 fatal falls to a lower level out of 828 total fatalities in construction. Falls can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps to fall prevention:

  • PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
  • PROVIDE the right equipment
  • TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL BANNING E-CIGARETTES WHERE SMOKING PROHIBITED

In 2006 the Hawai’i State Legislature passed sweeping laws under HRS328J expanding the scope of smoke free prohibitions in various enclosed and partially enclosed areas.

NEW No Smoking Sign Showing Traditional and Electronic Cigarettes

Effective January 1, 2016 the prohibition also includes electronic smoking devices also known as e-cigarettes:

  1. Work and educational settings
  2. Restaurants and retail settings
  3. Hotels and multi-unit housing common areas
  4. Care and rehabilitation facilities including prisons
  5. Indoor and outdoor recreational settings
  6. Transportation related areas

Local counties have also passed laws calling for additional smoking restrictions in areas not covered by state laws. Individual agencies and multi-unit buildings such as condominiums have also enacted their own smoke free policies for their respective properties. A growing number of agencies and private businesses have developed individual policies banning their use in settings such the work place, restaurants or city operated buses. Current state law restrict sales of electronic smoking devices (ESD) including e-cigarettes by persons under 18.

A new version of the SMOKE-FREE POSTER is now available which includes verbiage concerning electronic smoking devices. This can be obtained from the Hawaii and Federal Labor Law Poster Page by clicking HERE.

Act 19 upholds the protections created by Hawaii’s very successful Smoke-Free Workplace and Public Places Law, enacted in 2006. The signing of this historic legislation makes Hawaii the fourth U.S. state to have passed such a bill, after North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah.

The use of e-cigarettes in existing smoke-free locations has had the potential to expose non-smokers and vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women, to aerosolized nicotine and other toxic substances, which could be dangerous to one’s health. Studies have found that there is enormous variability among e-cigarette devices in terms of their design, operation, contents, and emissions of carcinogens, other toxicants, and nicotine.

“These products currently are not regulated and many of the hazardous components in cigarettes are also found in e-cigarette emissions,” said Director of Health Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Just as we found that smoking was dangerous after many years of unrestricted use, we could be unintentionally harming people as a result of not including e-cigarettes as part of our smoke-free laws.”

In a report issued this month on workplace tobacco policies, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NiOSH) warns about the secondhand exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes. Nicotine is addictive and toxic, and harmful even at low doses. It is an acute irritant, and capable of causing headache and nausea. For pregnant women, nicotine can transfer to and harm the developing fetus.

Smoke-free air laws were designed to protect the public from the dangers of nicotine and other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. In addition to potential health consequences, e-cigarette use undermines compliance with these same smoke-free laws by reversing the progress made in establishing a social norm that smoking is not permitted in public spaces.

While tobacco use among Hawaii’s public middle and high school students has declined over the past decade, e-cigarette use has been increasing rapidly. In particular, lifetime e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 5.1 percent in 2011 to 17.6 percent in 2013, and quadrupled among middle school students, from 1.8 percent to 7.9 percent, during the same time period.

Despite the fact that many e-cigarettes are marketed as smoking cessation devices, data has shown that e-cigarette users often do not quit smoking traditional cigarettes but instead become dual users.

E-cigarettes are not approved smoking cessation devices. The Department of Health’s Hawaii Tobacco Quit-line can provide approved cessation devices to Hawaii residents who are trying to quit smoking traditional or e-cigarettes. Residents can speak or chat with a quit coach free of charge by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW or by visiting www.hawaiiquitline.org.

For more information about tobacco prevention and control in Hawaii, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/tobacco/.

San Francisco Minimum Wage Up A Second Time in Just 4 Months

Effective May 1, 2015, San Francisco will join the city of Oakland in having
the highest minimum wage in the nation as it increases its minimum wage from
$11.05 to $12.25. Several cities in California have minimum wages above the
state’s current rate of $9.00/hour.Affecting more than 142,000 workers, the pay hike is the first in a set of increases that will see the minimum wage rise to $15 per hour by 2018. The increase comes after Oakland increased its minimum wage on March 2.For the convenience of our customers, All In One Posters has created 2
versions of San Francisco labor law posters. One includes other general city
posting requirements namely the Paid Sick Leave, Healthcare Security
Ordinance, Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, and Fair Chance Ordinance.
The other version is designed for San Francisco City-contractors which
include additional notices required for those who hold contracts with the city.

In addition to San Francisco, the cities of Oakland, Richmond, and San Jose have their own minimum wage rate that is higher than the state’s.