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Joel Stewart on PERM Labor Certification

Comments on PERM Stakeholders Conference

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These meetings are held at various times during the year, during which attorneys and organizations can present questions to DOL staff regarding the PERM process.



During a recent meeting, at issue was the method for determining Job Zones for particular SOC coded occupational classifications and the factors to be considered in determining what the Job Zone should be for an occupation.


The question was no doubt prompted by the fact that some of the Job Zone determinations are "off the wall" and one wonders where in the world they came from.


The response to the stakeholders provides me with a sense of "deja vu". It was many years ago that I went to North Carolina to visit Mr. Stanley Rose and his team. They were responsible for creating the job descriptions in the old Dictionary of Occupational Titles. They should me some intake sheets with data gathered from Employers. However, there were very few, and they did not seem to correspond to the more than 10,000 jobs in the DOT. Although Mr. Rose was very kind and hospitable, my impression was that while they do calculate some of them many had simply been guesstimated.


Could that be the case with SOC Job Zones?


Is that wrong? Well, Mr. Rose underscored the fact that in the preamble to the DOT it states that the findings in the DOT are not intended to be used by government agencies to create legal responsibilities



Oh, well, the handbook is available at www.onetcenter.org/reports/JobZoneProcedure.html. Enjoy!



Another topic was the reevaluation of occupations, to upgrade or downgrade as the need may be. However, it seems funny (strange) that so many occupations have been downgraded, and so few upgraded. Stakeholders who have been around for more than five years have no doubt been shocked to see what happened to some of the job zone levels of yesteryear. Instead of requiring the same or more preparation time, they now require less. I would think the opposite, that in an increasingly more technical society, jobs would require more training time than before.


Or is this just a reflection of America's failing leadership in the world?


One report I read states that thirty million adults in the U.S. do not have the skills to perform even the most basic tasks such as adding numbers on a bank slip, identifying a place on a map, or reading directions for taking a medication. Furthermore, 11 million Americans are totally illiterate in English. So, I guess the O*Net really is an accurate reflection of educational expectations in the U.S.


On the other hand, the O*Net is modern and in step with changing mores. Note that a new section of "green" occupations will be added.


Meanwhile on the topic of SVP which has created much misery for PERM Stakeholders, the DOL admits that it is not widely utilized anymore, except that PERM still uses SVP and nobody knows why.


While Nannies are listed on the O*Net, there is no salary listed for this position. The SWA's have control of prevailing wage, so questions regarding PW need to be directed to the State agencies. Don't forget the saga of the lost nannies is a long and complex story (Nannies have popped in and out of the database with regularity!). The idea is that for a long time, the government did not consider them to be skilled workers. In response to complaints, nannies were brought back to live, but now with no clear wage guidance!


The best advice to employers who are advised that the proposed minimum requirements (SVP) or wages are too low for a PERM case is to obtain independent documentation of same. The documentation would be presented after an audit. This will, of course, result in a monumental delay in processing the PERM application, but at least the employers will get to have their "day in court."


 



 


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