The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has announced the adverse effect wage rates (AEWRs) and meal allowance rates for the 2011 tax year. The rates are used by employers who are looking to hire certain temporary or seasonal H-2A nonimmigrant alien visa holders in the agricultural industry [76 FR 11286-11287, 03/01/2011].
AEWRs are the minimum wage rates that an employer in a specific geographic location must pay its seasonal nonimmigrant workers, and their U.S. counterparts, in the agricultural industry. AEWRs were established to ensure that the hiring of H-2A nonresident alien visa holders does not adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers in the area. Employers of these workers must pay the highest of the AEWR, the prevailing wage or piece rate, the agreed-upon collective bargaining rate, or the federal or state minimum wage rate in effect at the time the work is performed. AEWRs vary from state to state. In 2011, AEWRs range from $8.97 (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) to $12.01 (Hawaii).
Meal and travel allowances. The DOL requires H-2A agricultural employers to offer their workers three meals a day, or free and convenient cooking and kitchen facilities. If the employer provides meals, the job offer must state the charge, if any, to the worker for the meals. The DOL has announced that, for 2011, employers may charge their workers no more than $10.73 per day. In addition, workers who qualify for travel reimbursement may be entitled to receive up to $46.00 per day if receipts for expenses are provided.
The new rates went into effect on March 1, 2011.