Kerry Scott, Program Manager at másLabor, a consulting firm that assists employers with the federal H-2A program, is constantly traveling the country, talking to specialty crop growers about the ins and outs of the H-2A program.
Here, Scott offers seven things you need to know about the program before you start using it.
- Start early. Identify the day you want workers to arrive, and mark your calendar for 120 days prior to that point. You’ll need to provide a firm number of workers to the Department of Labor at least 75 days before they start. You should also note the last day you need them.
If you’re trying to decide how many workers to apply for, think smaller. “You’re likely to get absolute reliability from these workers, which means you’ll probably need fewer than you think,” Scott says.
- You must provide housing, either apartment-style or trailers, with at least one bed per worker. The housing must be hooked into local utilities, and it must include a place to cook. There are checklists for all housing issues available, Scott says.
- You may have to pay for travel costs if the housing is far enough away from your business, although workers can apply for driver’s licenses.
- The wage you pay is based on the adverse effect wage rate (so as not to disrupt your local economy) and will likely be higher than the local minimum wage. If you work through a company like másLabor, you’ll pay a specific fee per contract.
- Each worker can stay for a maximum of 10 months. You can send them home early, but they need to have worked for at least three-quarters of the original number of hours you applied for.
- The biggest benefit of the program, Scott says, is that you are virtually guaranteed to get capable and reliable workers. There also should not be any distractions, as most of the workers will not have family here.
For more information, contact Kerry Scott at [email protected].