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DOL issued proposed rule on H-2B temporary nonagricultural employment

The Department of Labor's (DOL) Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division have proposed a rule to revise and solicit comments on the process by which employers obtain temporary labor certifications from the DOL for use in petitioning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to employ nonimmigrant workers in H-2B status. The DOL also proposes "to create new regulations to provide for increased worker protections for both U.S. and foreign workers and enhanced enforcement under the H-2B program."

Among other things, the DOL is revisiting the use of attestations. The DOL said it is interested in receiving comments on the alternative of maintaining the current or some modification of the current attestation-based program design. Specifically, the DOL seeks comments on whether it should develop certain attestations that can be required of all employers (such as an attestation for certain kinds of recruitment), or for only certain program compliance requirements. The DOL proposes to bifurcate the current application process into a registration phase that addresses the employer's temporary need and an application phase that addresses the labor market test.

The rule also proposes substantive changes to several terms; for example, clarifying what non-agricultural employment is and adding a definition of "area of substantial employment" to the H-2B program. The rule also proposes to amend the definition of "full time" in the H-2B program to mean 35 or more hours per week, instead of the current 30. The DOL said it welcomes comments regarding whether extending the definition of a full-time workweek to at least 40 hours for the H-2B program would better protect U.S. workers and whether it conforms better to employer standards and needs.

Comments may be submitted to the office named in the proposed rule by May 17, 2011. The proposed rule, which was published on March 18, 2011, is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-6152.pdf.

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