Elite Retro H2A Best Practices
The overall cost of the H2A program is extremely high for employers. They are responsible for all employment related taxes including the full cost of L&I premiums. When an injured worker with an open claim returns to their home country, there are many challenges to the employers and the injured worker to manage that are out of their control: Treatment, establishing a doctor that is geographically nearby, compliance with treatment, ensuring the workers have a provider that is willing to work with L&I.
H2-A Claims Management Best Practices:
Have all H2A workers’ home addresses and phone number in country of origin. Specifically, an address at which they receive mail.
Assist the H2A worker with setting up their voice mail.
Identify and locate nearby consulate of H2A workers’ home country (usually Seattle area).
Identify a local clinic that will work with you in the treatment of injured H2A workers.
Educate providers on how they can help facilitate the best treatment options for an H2A workers for a rapid recovery.
Establish a rapport with providers, explaining the difficulties we have when workers return to their home country in obtaining treatment. Distance from medical facilities, difficulties securing transportation, etc., can be challenging. Request a time-limited, goal-oriented treatment plan.
Ensure all medical appointments are kept and that workers are transported to all appointments, therapies and IME’s. You will need to make sure you have qualified drivers per DOL and SMPA rules (WH-515 doctor-certified) to take the workers to their appointments.
Make sure to consider a KOS policy that allows for KOS beyond 30 days. Time loss costs to both EMR and Retro makes paying KOS a viable option at all times. This time would include any period they would be disabled beyond the contract period as well.
Calculate the H2A worker’s wages at the time of injury based on the prior 12 months of recorded earnings they had working for you.
If this is their first year, and they have no past earnings record, consider what hours and money the worker would have earned under this contract period and pay the average earnings per week.
After the season, pay the average weekly of the total contracted earnings they would have made if not injured. For example: 500 contracted hours x average weekly rate (i.e. $15/hr.) / 52. It is the fairest figure to both parties.
If your company has H2A housing of its own, calculate the annual costs and average them into a monthly amount or rental value (include maintenance, utilities, repairs and mortgage). Add that to the worker’s monthly wage to establish the worker’s complete monthly wage.
If your company doesn’t have its own worker housing, make contacts with outside providers to make sure they provide housing at any point during the year and that you can continue to pay for housing if a person needs to stay past their H2A (I-94) period to complete treatment.
Keep in contact with the worker throughout the claim. Let them know you are here to help them get through this and get back to earning a full wage. If coming to the end of the contract and the claim isn’t going to close, make them aware of their options to stay and seek treatment in the U.S., allow them to make the decision. It’s best overall if they stay here for treatment in terms of quality of care, convenience and overall costs.
All costs associated with travel(flight, hotel, etc.) are paid by L&I under what is classified as a ‘miscellaneous’ expense. The monies spent directly impact your costs as an employer at a rate of 9:1. As such, employers may reimburse L&I for the amount paid as a tool for additional cost mitigation.