We bring in two experts to provide clarity for you on the H2A program. We learn about the process it takes to qualify, how to acquire, and what costs look like for your farm. The guys help us through the process from start to finish and we hope by the end of this episode you will have more clarity.
Understanding the H2A Process/Program
Shay Foulk – Ag View Solutons, Profit Manager Pre-Roll
What is H2A?
What does it take to qualify for the H-2A Program?
• be agricultural in nature,
• not involve processing a commodity from its raw state into an altered state (e.g., canning), and
• be temporary (generally less than ten months long).
When Should You Apply?
How Many Workers Should You Request?
o the Consulate Fee of $190,
o the round-trip plane tickets, and
o subsistence costs, including food, lodging, and fuel costs
• Help the workers get everything they need upon arrival,
o a driver’s license/CDL (if required for the job),
o a Social Security Card, and
o a bank account.
• Give the workers what they need for the job, including:
o free housing that meets OSHA or ETA standards, depending on when it was built,
o free transportation to and from the worksite every day and to the grocery store once a week, and
o any required tools, safety gear, including a means of two-way communication (e.g., a cell phone).
• Ensure all H-2A workers are covered by Worker’s Compensation at all worksites for the entire contract period.
• Pay workers, at a minimum, the state minimum wage, the federal minimum wage, the prevailing wage, or your state’s Adverse Effect Wage Rate (as published by the Department of Labor), whichever is the highest.
• Pay workers at least twice per month.
• Provide each worker with a pay slip at the end of every pay period. You can find a pay slip template with all the required fields on our database.
• If your state requires it, pay workers the time-and-a-half rate for overtime. In most states, H-2A workers are exempt from overtime. However, some states, like California and Minnesota, require employers to pay the overtime rate if workers work more than a set number of hours.
• Never take deductions from a worker’s paycheck, except as required by law (e.g., taxes, if applicable) or as specified on your Application for Temporary Labor Certification.
• If you have American workers performing the same duties as H-2A workers, pay them at least the same wage rate and offer them the same benefits.
Employers are partially responsible for worker meals. Employers must choose and adhere to one of the following options for the duration of the work period:
• Option 1: You provide three meals a day for each worker. In this case, you may charge each worker (or deduct from their pay) the daily rate set by the Department of Labor for the provided food. This rate changes periodically. You can find the current rate on the DOL’s website or by contacting us.
• Option 2: You furnish free and convenient cooking and kitchen facilities for workers to prepare their own meals and provide them with free transportation once a week to purchase groceries.
What are some best practices you have seen successful farms using?
Can you share labor with a neighboring farmer?
What types of penalties exist if you don’t follow the rules?
Are the rules subject to change with upcoming legislation? Is the program in jeopardy?
Anything else we should cover?
Please share contact information and any additional resources.