Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2015
The bill would do the following:
- Create an H-2B returning worker exemption;
- Require wages to based on the job category and experience level required, rather than the median wage;
- Allow the use of private wage surveys;
- Return the H-2B program to an attestation based process;
- Specify that H-2B employers do not need to provide housing to their workers, allow for payroll deductions for housing in accordance with the Fair Labors Standards Act, and require employers to “make reasonable efforts” to assist H-2B workers in locating housing;
- Specify that for H-2B workers, full time is considered 30 or more hours per week and seasonal need is limited to 10 months;
- Require employers to reimburse H-2B workers for their transportation costs from the consulate or previous worksite to the place of employment after the H-2B workers works for 50% of the season, as well as require the employer to pay return transportation costs to the consulate or new worksite;
- Require employers to report to DHS any H-2B worker who does not report for work within 5 days of his or her anticipated start date or who does not report for work or 5 consecutive days without consent of the employer;
- Allows for staggered crossing of H-2B workers;
- Allow for the replacement of an H-2B worker who leaves the job for the completion of the job term;
- Provides for conditional approval for H-2B workers by DHS once the cap is met so that visas may be issued in the order approved if cap numbers become available;
- Require the creation of an electronic reporting system between the Departments of State and Homeland Security that will provide for “real time” counting of the H-2B cap and require the State Department to provide DHS with weekly updates related to the H-2B cap count;
- Require DHS to publicly post on a website the cap count, the annual number of target beneficiaries, the cap count methodology it is using, number of H-2B visa petitions approved and received during the past five years’ and other items;
- Require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the DHS cap count methodology and its accuracy; and
- Specify that DHS has exclusive authority to issue H-2B rules and final determinations.
The introduction of this bill follows a letter sent earlier in week to the Department of Labor (DOL) from Senators Burr (R-NC) and Mikulski and 24 other Senators expressing concern with existing H-2B processing delays. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) also sent a similar letter.
We expect similar H-2B legislation to be introduced in the House shortly.