Understanding the Final Ruling on Seasonal Agricultural Hiring

October 30, 2019 - minute read

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Final Rule has just taken effect, and it would appear it was well-worth the wait. It’s primary purpose: to help American workers locate and fill open agricultural jobs. These changes come in response to a number of proposed improvements to the H-2A temporary agricultural labor program and labor market test for H-2A certification on the Federal Register. As of last week, we are seeing those changes come to light.

If your agricultural business has faced hiring obstacles or I-9 verification difficulty, the new federally-operated website and improved market test aim to help you with difficult fills. Whether your operation calls for extra seasonal hands or workers in remote areas, the government’s recruiting assistance could mean big changes for agriculture and other hourly workforce industries in the new year. First, let’s make sure you have all the details on the latest ruling and what that means for hiring in 2020.

The Labor Market Test

The improved federal labor market test assesses whether qualified workers are available to fill temporary agricultural jobs. H-2A job opportunities are posted on SeasonalJobs.dol.gov, which helps determine whether or not an employer will be granted special status to accept migrant workers to fill specific positions. The improved version of the ETA’s existing electronic job registry at SeasonalJobs.dol.gov offers a mobile-friendly, online platform with:

  • Personalized search capabilities.
  • Information on related job opportunities.
  • Compatibility with third-party job-search websites.

In order to help ensure your operational demands are met, localized services and state workforce agencies are used to promote H‑2A job opportunities awareness as well. In addition to making it easier for workers to find and employers to fill open jobs, the Final Rule reduces regulatory burdens like the requirement that all employers advertise in a print newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment as the method of recruitment.

How It Affects the H-2A Visa Program

The expanded H-2A visa program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals for temporary or seasonal agricultural work or authorized migrant employees to fill remaining open positions in the U.S. As previously stated, you must receive approval from the DOL before you petition for the visas, as well as show proof of your attempts to first recruit U.S. workers for jobs.

The final rule states that in addition to withdrawing the requirement that job ads be placed in newspapers, the DOL will post online advertisements on employers' behalf via SeasonalJobs.dol.gov to assist in filling open positions. The DOL has stated that it will also work with state workforce agencies to help decide where to run the online ads through third-party sites to maximize outreach.

In addition to electronic filing, updated wage rates, and greater hiring flexibility, the DOL has proposed similar changes for the H-2B visa program, which allows employers to hire guest workers for temporary nonagricultural labor as well. It’s very possible that this is the first of many steps towards sanctioned worker migration for large-scale agricultural and manufacturing jobs in the future.

Better Hiring with EPAY Systems

Whether it’s to fill seasonal demands, bring on extra help for a speedy harvest, or extend your workforce for growth in your operation, you want to make the best hiring decisions possible. When you take full advantage of a Human Capital Management system, you gain a valuable asset in addressing all your toughest workforce challenges.

For hiring specifically, EPAY offers a variety of powerful features including easy integration with job sites, candidate messaging, video-interviewing, and effortless onboarding. That includes administration of tax and federal withholding forms, benefits enrollment, and I-9 verification for every step of your applicants’ journey. When you have EPAY’s HCM, you can integrate with the E-Verify database or outsource your entire E-Verify workflow to us. Either way, you’ll be able to put all your compliance concerns to rest and provide an easy route to short-term and long-term employment throughout the year.

Our agile HCM system is built with hourly, seasonal, nontraditional workforces in mind. But don’t take our word for it, see why EPAY is right for you with our eBook, “6 Ways to Tell if EPAY’s HCM Is a Good Match for Your Business” and request a demo today.

Filed Under: Compliance Human Capital Management HR News Applicant Tracking & Hiring Onboarding