Implementation of Two Labor Rules Postponed

Some recent developments have postponed the implementation of two new labor rules that have con­cerned small business. The Office of Advocacy has been working with representatives of the affected small business industries in both cases.

Congressional Action Halts H-2B Visa Wage Increases

On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed into law the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which includes language that prohibits the use of any FY2012 federal funding to enforce the Department of Labor’s final rule on wage methodology for the H-2B visa program. Under the final rule, the wages of H-2B visa holders in the affected industries would have increased by $1.23 to $9.72 per hour. Prior to this congressional action, the agency had also postponed the effective date of this rule numerous times.

The H-2B program allows seasonal employers to temporarily hire low-wage foreign workers. Some of the top industries that utilize the H-2B program are landscaping, lodging, construction, restaurants, and seafood processing. In the past year, Advocacy has held two small business roundtables and submitted four public comment letters on the H-2B visa issue. Small businesses have expressed concern that the wage increases in this final rule would shut small businesses out of this vital program, jeopardizing their business operations. Advocacy will continue to monitor the H-2B issue and its effect on small businesses.

NLRB Postpones Effective Date of Rights Posting Rule to April 30

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency, has agreed to postpone the effective date of a rule requiring the display of an employee rights poster in workplaces. This was done at the request of a federal court in Washington, D.C., which is hearing a legal challenge to the rule. The board determined that postponing the effective date would facilitate the resolution of the legal challenges that have been filed with respect to the rule. The new implementation date is April 30, 2012.

Most private sector employers will be required to post the 11-by-17-inch notice by the new implementation date of April 30. The notice is available at no cost from the NLRB, which has additional information on posting requirements and NLRB jurisdiction.

—Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel