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Put these 2 issues on your radar

November 5, 2019 -  By
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Photo: iStock.com/drnadig

Photo: iStock.com/drnadig

Two issues that should be on your radar screen are the H-2B fly-in in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13 and the new federal overtime rules that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

H-2B Fly-In Nov. 13

Last federal fiscal year, 30,000 additional H-2B visas were made available under language in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) FY2019 appropriation bill. That language expired Sept. 30 at the end of the federal fiscal year as did funding for DHS. DHS was able to keep operating under a “continuing resolution,” which funds DHS and other federal agencies through Nov. 21.

In June, the House Appropriations committee passed a DHS appropriation bill for FY 2020 that would authorize an additional 69,320 H-2B visas, in addition to the statutorily authorized 66,000. The bill also contains language that the secretary of DHS “shall” release the additional visas, rather than “may” as in the current authorization, if the secretary finds that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers.

Congress is under a deadline of Nov. 21 to pass appropriations bills to avoid a government shutdown. H-2B advocates, including AmericanHort and the National Association of Landscape Professionals, are planning a fly-in to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13 to lobby Congress to keep the H-2B language in any DHS appropriations bill that passes. This may be the last chance to raise the H-2B cap for the 2020 season.

Click here to download details of the fly-in.

New overtime rules take effect Jan. 1, 2020

The federal Department of Labor issued final regulations on Sept. 24 concerning the much-anticipated revised threshold for workers exempt from overtime pay. The new regulations take effect on Jan. 1. The rule raises the minimum salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay to $684 per week ($35,568 annually) from the current $455 per week ($23,660 annually), an increase of 50 percent. This salary threshold last was updated in 2004.

This means more of your employees could come under the federal overtime rules. Salaried employees who perform work that is primarily executive, administrative, professional or outside sales that may have been exempt from mandatory overtime pay will now come under those rules if their salary is less than $684 weekly or $35,568 annually.

In addition to raising the minimum salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay, the new regulations also:

  • Raise the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” from the currently enforced level of $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year;
  • Allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level.

If you have not already begun the process of analyzing your workforce to determine which of your employees may be affected by these new rules, now is the time to start. For more information on how to prepare for these new rules, see my April 3 Landscape Management blog.

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About the Author:

Gregg Robertson, Landscape Management's government relations blogger, is a government relations consultant for the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association (PLNA) and president of Conewago Ventures. From 2002 until May 2013 he served as president of PLNA. Reach him at gregg.robertson@conewagoventures.com.

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