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Can employers stop payroll for H1 employees by transferring them to their Global org?

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  • Can employers stop payroll for H1 employees by transferring them to their Global org?

    The contract that my employer had with a client ended due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. After 2 weeks of bench period, On April 14, a bunch of us H1 and L1 employees were given a Transfer letter that stated that the payroll processing would stop on April 15 and gave us a choice of either relocation to India or quit the employer.

    The letter also stated that since there are no flights between USA and India, the employer would pay a per diem to employees opting for relocation. My first question is, is it legal for an employer to do stop payroll for their H1B and L1B employees and switch them to per diem?

    While we waited for the flights to open up, there was also instances where the employer paid the per diem only upon reminding them, so they were 2-3 days late in their own commitment.

    Once India started their Vande Bharat Mission, the employer started forcing everyone to get to Delhi promising them reimbursement for the move. I pushed back since there were no direct flights to my choice of destination, this resulted in me immediately being fired. My second question is, is the employer still obligated to reimburse my travel back to India?

  • #2
    You must be paid at all times on H1. The bench rule / furloughs etc. do not apply to H1 holders. However, the employer can reduce pay to meet the minimum required by LCA.
    An H1 holder, may voluntarily, request an upaid leave of absence.

    So, if you were unpaid during the bench period, that is a mistake from the employer side.

    The per diem must be equal to the minimum stated on the LCA.

    You can get an attorney involved (or even complain to immigration). This would result in immigration scrutinizing their existing and future H1, GC applications.
    Opinion only. Cannot be construed as legal advice.