The Department of Labor recently issued a notice announcing (1) the allowable charges that H-2A employers may charge their workers when the employer provides three meals a day and (2) the maximum travel subsistence meal reimbursement that a worker with receipts may claim in 2014. The notice also includes a reminder regarding an H-2A employers' obligations with respect to overnight lodging costs.
When an H-2A employer provides meals, the job offer must state the charge, if any, to the worker for such meals. For 2014, the maximum allowable meal charge is $11.58 per day unless the DOL approves a higher charge.
In 2014, workers who qualify for travel reimbursement are entitled to reimbursement for meals up to $46 when they provide receipts. In determining the appropriate amount of reimbursement for meals for less than a full day, the employer may provide for meal expense reimbursement, with receipts, of a maximum of $34.50. If a worker has no receipts, the employer is not obligated to reimburse more than the minimum subsistence charge for meals during travel, which is $11.58 a day.
"Subsistence" includes both meals and lodging during travel to and from the worksite. An H-2A employer must either pay in advance or reimburse a worker for the reasonable costs of transportation and daily subsistence between the employer's worksite and the place from which the worker comes to work for the employer (provided that the worker completes 50% of the work contract period). When the worker completes the contract, an H-2A employer must pay for that workers’ return costs.
When an H-2A worker must travel to obtain a visa so that the worker may enter the U.S. to come to work for the H-2A employer, the employer must pay for the transportation and daily subsistence costs of that part of the travel. H-2A employers must pay the reasonable costs associated with the worker's travel, including transportation, food, and lodging, when necessary. When an H-2A employer does not provide transportation and lodging, the H-2A employer must pay the most economical and reasonable costs associated with these expenses.
H-2A employers are responsible for the worker’s travel costs to the worksite provided that the worker completes 50% of the work contract period. When the worker completes the contract, an H-2A employer must pay his or her return transportation and subsistence costs, including lodging costs where necessary. This policy applies equally to instances where the worker is traveling within the U.S. to the employer's worksite.