Impact of COVID-19 on H-1B Employees

Published: 03/26/2020

Employers are facing many employment decisions regarding their workforce amid the COVID-19 crisis.  H-1B employees have rules particular to them which employers should bear in mind.  This e-alert highlights the issues to consider.  However, given the constantly changing landscape, the final course of action depends on a review of the rulings and best practices then in effect. 


Generally, H-1B workers cannot be “benched,” meaning they cannot be put in unpaid, unproductive status due to employment-related conditions.  Thus, if an H-1B employee is furloughed due to employment circumstances caused by COVID-19, s/he must continue to be paid for that time.  Full-time salaried employees must be paid their regular weekly salary.  Full-time, hourly employees must be paid for 40 hours of work (or less if they can demonstrate that the lesser amount is considered full-time employment for its hourly employees).  NOTE – the U.S. Department of Labor considers 35 hours/week as full-time employment.  Part-time workers must be paid at least the number of hours indicated on their H-1B application submitted with the USCIS.


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