Is Your Farm Ready for the New Ag Labor Laws?

Beginning January 1, 2020, New York farm employers face several major changes to the laws that govern farm employment. Labor is one of the largest inputs for most New York farm businesses and one of the most socially and ethically complex issues for managers. As a farm manager, you should consider your overall human resource management strategies and actively choose how your business will adapt to the new requirements while staying in legal compliance. The major changes to the law include:

  1. Overtime
  2. Weekly day of rest
  3. Collective bargaining
  4. Workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance
  5. Disability insurance and Paid Family Leave

It is your responsibility as an employer to inform yourself and your employees about these changes, and ensure that your business is in compliance. We have complied the following list of resources to assist you in this effort.

Updates to Farmworker Rights and Employer Responsibilities

https://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/dipa/p748.pdf

This NYSDOL fact sheet summarizes the major features of the new legislation and provides contact information for various agencies that can provide resources and support to help farmers achieve compliance.

Overview of New York Labor Regulations

https://www.farmcrediteast.com/knowledge-exchange/Webinars/overview-of-new-york-labor-regulations

This recorded webinar, presented by Richard Stup from Cornell Ag Workforce Development, describes the new ag labor regulations going into effect January 1, 2020. You can download a PDF version of the presentation, and use it as a checklist to ensure that your farm has made the necessary changes.

Adapting Your Labor Strategies to New York’s Revised Farm Employment Laws

https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/7/8192/files/2019/11/Adapting-Your-Labor-Strategies.pdf

This extension bulletin describes a process farms can use to analyze and select a labor strategy in response to the new overtime regulations. It describes various strategies that farms can use to adapt to the new laws, and discusses pros and cons of each strategy. The document also includes a link to Cornell’s Overtime Cost Calculator, which farms can use to evaluate their labor costs under the new overtime rules.

NYSDOL Pay Notice and Work Agreement for Farm Workers (LS 309)

English: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS309.pdf

Spanish: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS309S.pdf

Farms are legally required to have a written Work Agreement on file for all employees, and you must update the agreement any time wages or other terms of employment change. Most agricultural employers should be updating their employee Work Agreements to reflect the various changes coming in 2020. The easiest way to meet this requirement is to use form LS 309 provided by Department of Labor. DOL recently updated form LS 309 to reflect the new overtime and day-of rest rules.

What Employers Can and Cannot Say About Unions

http://blogs.cornell.edu/agworkforce/category/employment-law/unions-and-collective-bargaining/

New York farm employees will have the right to organize in unions and collectively bargain under the state’s new farm labor law. Farm employers need to understand that in an environment where employees may try to organize there are some special rules about what employers can and cannot say or do about unions.

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Farm Business Management Specialist

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