The Department of Labor (“DOL”) is set to once again raise the standard for minimum wage rates for H-2A workers in California. Federal regulations require that the minimum wage for H-2A employees is the highest of (1) the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (“AEWR”), (2) the prevailing hourly or piece rate, (3) the agreed upon collective bargaining wage rate, if applicable, or (4) the state or federal minimum wage.
Often, the highest rate is the AEWR, a rate specifically set by the DOL for each state as the minimum to be offered to H-2A workers. The goal of the AEWR is to keep wages of similarly employed U.S. workers from being adversely affected by employers’ ability to hire labor from outside the country. The AEWR for each state is updated by the DOL every year based on a review by region of the prevailing wages of U.S. workers.
In 2016, the AEWR for California was $11.89 per hour. The National Agricultural Statistics Service recently released information which indicates that the rate is expected to rise to $12.57 per hour in California in 2017. Many other states, including Oregon and Washington, will see a similar increase.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT
Wage rates are steadily increasing across the board for employers. This increase in H-2A labor costs will be a further drain on employers that are already dealing with a labor shortage and planned changes in overtime requirements on both the federal and state level. If you have any questions about what rate applies to your workers or H-2A labor, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.