PERM Prevailing Wage Redetermination Request Approved – DOL Selected Wrong Job Classification
One of the prerequisites to filing a PERM Labor Certification is to have a prevailing wage determination issued by the Department of Labor’s National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). The prevailing wage is the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment. Among other things, the wage rate is based on the position title, the position description and minimum requirements, and the area of intended employment.
Upon submission of a prevailing wage application, we provide a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) for the PERM position – the best match wins! The NPWC takes our “suggestion” into consideration, but they ultimately decide what classification the position falls under. Issues can arise if an improper classification is selected by the NPWC. Not only do job details differ across classifications, but wage amounts can differ considerably as well.
This is especially a problem where the NPWC’s selected classification has a higher corresponding wage than what is normal for the PERM position. The good news is, the NPWC allows employers to request a redetermination of prevailing wage where the underlying determination is incorrect. We recently had this issue arise and succeeded in our redetermination request on behalf of the employer.
We submitted a prevailing wage application for a Cost Estimator under the SOC code “13-1051, Cost Estimators.” Based on the job title, job details, and minimum requirements, this was the best match for the position. After 3 months, the NPWC issued the prevailing wage determination under the incorrect SOC code of “11-9021, Construction Managers.” As one would expect, the prevailing wage was much higher than expected because of the management classification.
This was problematic because the employer was not prepared to pay such a high wage for a non-management role. To correct the NPWC’s error, we requested a redetermination of the prevailing wage. We noted the major differences between the Cost Estimator role as described by the employer and the Construction Manager role as defined by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET details.
In a nutshell, we explained that the Cost Estimator would not focus on supervision, planning, and coordination of constriction projects, which are the major aspects of a Construction Manager role. Instead, we explained, the Cost Estimator would focus on project bids and assessing the cost effectiveness of projects, products, and services, among other things. It seems the NPWC was caught up in a few small overlapping aspects of the positions instead of analyzing the overall goals of each role… the NPWC failed to see the big picture.
Another 3 months later, we received good news… our request had been granted and the prevailing wage determination was corrected. We were able to finally move on to the recruitment phase of the PERM process. The major setback here was time, but in the end we were able to deliver good news to the employer.
Prevailing wage issues can get messy and complicated. That’s why it’s important to speak with a qualified immigration attorney when starting the process.