WASHINGTON: An American employment service company has agreed to pay USD 1.1 million in back wages to nearly 600 H-1B employees, a large number of whom are highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.
This follows an investigation by the Department of Labour's Wage and Hour Division which found that Populus Group failed to pay H-1B employees required wages when worksites were shut down for holidays.
In addition to paying the back wages, Populus Group - based in Troy, Michigan - will review past and current payroll records to ensure compliance with programme requirements. In all, 594 H-1B employees will receive their back wages, an official statement said. "The intent of the H-1B foreign labour certification programme is to help American companies find the highly skilled talent they need when they can prove that a shortage of US workers exists," said Wage and Hour District Director Timolin Mitchell in Detroit, Michigan. "The resolution of this case demonstrates our commitment to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and ensure no one is being paid less than they are legally owed," he said.
The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed US workers from being adversely affected by the employment of the non-immigrant workers, as well as to protect the H-1B non-immigrant workers.
Employers must attest to the department that they will pay wages to the H-1B non-immigrant workers at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment - whichever is greater, the official said in a statement.
The H-1B visa, popular among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.