New York Farm Workers Entitled to Overtime Wages

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, ending exclusions that prevented farm employees from receiving the same benefits as workers in other industries. Farm workers in New York will now be entitled to overtime wages, a day of rest, and other labor protections. The legislation will take effect January 1, 2020.

While overtime wages should be paid to non-exempt workers after 40 hours per workweek, the legislation signed by Cuomo sets a 60-hour-a-week overtime threshold for farm laborers. Supporters of the legislation state that the farm labor bill will improve working conditions for employees. Many farm workers have experienced abuse and retaliation from their employers due to lack of protections.

“One hundred thousand farmworkers will have better lives,” Cuomo said before he signed the bill. “Their families will have better lives.” The bill also extends unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation to farm laborers, requires at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each week and grants workers collective bargaining rights and the right to unionize.

The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act also includes requirements for employers of farm laborers to be allowed at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each week, makes provisions of unemployment insurance law applicable to farm laborers, ensures sanitary codes apply to all farm worker housing, regardless of the number of occupants, removes a payroll threshold for requiring farm labor employers to obtain workers’ compensation coverage and allows farm laborers to receive disability and Paid Family Leave benefits.


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