Employee Benefits: H-1B Wage Requirements

Companies offer benefits, or perks and compensations for services, as a means to attract highly skilled employees. As some of the most highly skilled professionals in the American workforce, H-1B employees are often recipients of attractive benefits packages, including paid vacation, health care, stock options, etc. For employers, whether the value of benefit services provided to H-1B employees contributes to the minimum wage requirement depends on several factors.

Benefits for H-1B Employees

According to federal regulation, benefits offered to H-1B employees must be the same benefits offered to similarly employed U.S. workers. Though the H-1B employee is a temporary employee, they may not be excluded from any type of benefits or services offered by the company. An H-1B worker may opt to receive different benefit packages than their U.S. counterparts or opt out of a service altogether. For example, an H-1B worker can choose not to enroll in the company’s health insurance plan due to the minimum contributions required to maintain a plan. In this case, a similarly employed U.S. worker may reap the benefits of the company provided insurance plan without risking compliance to federal regulations. If an H-1B petitioning company is multinational, and a H-1B worker travels in and out of the United States, the requirement for comparable benefits to U.S. workers depends on the period of the H-1B worker’s stay. Regardless of the benefits provided, the H-1B petitioning employer must comply with all non-discrimination regulations outlined in Article VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 when allocating benefits.

Minimum Wage Requirements

To comply with federal standards, H-1B employers are required to pay their employees a prevailing wage adjusted for the occupational classification of employment. The monetary values of benefits provided may be counted towards the required wage:

Benefits provided as compensation for services may be credited toward the satisfaction of the employer’s required wage obligation only if the requirements of paragraph (c)(2) of this section are met (e.g., recorded and reported as “earnings” with appropriate taxes and FICA contributions withheld and paid). 20 CFR 655.731

If you have any questions or concerns regarding satisfying minimum wage requirements through benefit contributions, or any other questions regarding providing benefits to H-1B employees, feel free to schedule a consultation.