DOL Finalizes Enhancements to Farmworker Protection Rule

DOL Finalizes Enhancements to Farmworker Protection Rule

The updated rule aims to offer increased protection for workers under the H-2A program.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized a rule to enhance protections for farmworkers, particularly those under the H-2A program, effective from June 28, 2024. 

According to a recent release, the rule addresses a number of issues faced by agricultural workers, ensuring fair labor standards are upheld across the sector. The final rule introduces several provisions aimed at improving worker advocacy, clarifying termination policies, enhancing transparency in foreign labor recruitment, ensuring timely wage adjustments and improving transportation safety for farmworkers.

“H-2A workers too frequently face abusive working conditions that undercut all farmworkers in the U.S.,” Acting Secretary Julie Su said in a statement. “This rule ensures farmworkers employed through the H-2A program are treated fairly, have a voice in their workplace and are able to perform their work safely. It also promotes employer accountability, benefitting all farmworkers by upholding labor standards. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to being the most pro-worker administration in history, and this rule is a significant milestone in that effort.”

Notably, the rule prohibits employers from holding or confiscating workers' identification documents, a measure aimed at preventing labor exploitation and human trafficking. It also requires seat belts in vehicles transporting H-2A workers, advocates for timely wage changes and aims to improve transparency in foreign labor recruitment.

To enforce compliance, the final rule updates procedures for discontinuing employment services for non-compliant employers. It also streamlines procedures for applying debarment to non-compliant entities and clarifies how the DOL determines separate entities acting as one employer for enforcement purposes. 

Applications filed before August 28, 2024, will be processed under existing regulations, but those submitted on or after August 29, 2024, will be processed according to the provisions of the Farmworker Protection Rule.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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