The United States Department of Labor has issued a rule on the H-2B temporary worker guest program that has ramifications for the horse industry, the American Horse Council reported April 17.
The new rule takes effect April 23.
The H-2B program is used by horse industry participants such as trainers and owners that cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs, and in similar non-agricultural activities.
“Anyone in the horse industry who uses the H-2B program needs to be aware of this new rule.” AHC president Jay Hickey said. “It makes major changes to the responsibilities of employers using the program, and if the new guidelines aren’t followed, employers could be fined and barred from using the program.”
The AHC, which opposes the new rule, said the requirements will make the H-2B program “more costly and burdensome” for employers.
“It is unfortunate the (Department of Labor) decided to finalize this rule,” AHC legislative director Ben Pendergrass said. “This rule will make it difficult for trainers and others in the horse industry to use the program and could impact American jobs.
“The current rule was working well for the industry and included many protections for foreign and American workers.”
The latest rule requires employers to pay most inbound and outbound travel expenses for H-2B workers; requires employers to provide documentation that they have taken appropriate steps to recruit U.S. workers; increases the amount of time employers must attempt to recruit U.S. workers; shortens “temporary need” from 10 months to nine months; and defines full-time employment as 35 hours instead of 30.
Pendergrass said employers in the horse industry should review the guidelines to ensure compliance. The rule is available for viewing at http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/H2BFinalRule/index.htm.