Digging Into The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act

August 09, 2019

The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act was signed into law in New York State by Gov. Cuomo on July 17, and no matter how you feel about the changes enacted, the time to prepare for its January 1, 2020 effective date is now. While you’re
reviewing the changes, it’s important to keep in mind that many of the exemptions historically provided to smaller sized farms were not granted under this new law. Everyone who employs one or more persons during the year must be aware of and prepared for these changes.

While there were numerous changes in this bill that will affect different employers in different ways, we’re going to highlight the ones that will impact the majority of agricultural employers here. The following list is not exhaustive, and as always, it’s subject to change as new guidance is issued by the NYS legislature and a newly established wage board.

  • The definition of exempt family employee has been restricted to lineal family only. Exempt employees now include only parents, children, and siblings. Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins are not considered exempt.
  • Overtime wages (paid at a minimum of time and a half) must be paid to every employee who works more than 60 hours per week.
  • Every farm employee is entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest during each calendar week. If the employee chooses to work during their 24 hours of rest, that time must be paid at the overtime rate, regardless of how many hours are worked
    during the rest of that week.
  • Every farm employee must be covered by disability and paid family leave insurance. This has historically been optional for all farm employees except for office workers, but is now required for everyone.
  • Farm employees are entitled to form unions and utilize the collective bargaining process, including the use of secret ballots.

If you have any questions after looking over this list, we would encourage you to contact your accountant or payroll specialist. The changes enacted by this legislation are broad and the penalties for not being in compliance are steep. It is our goal to make sure every client is fully prepared for these changes well in advance of January 1, 2020. If you have already entrusted your payroll processing to Allied Financial, you will be contacted by your payroll specialist prior to January 1 in order to make sure you are fully prepared for the changes affecting your specific payroll.

And while you’re reviewing these employment changes, it may also be a good time to make sure you’re in compliance on the sexual harassment training mandate that became effective for all NYS employers as of October 9, 2018. The two main requirements of this law are that you provide each of your employees an anti-sexual harassment policy as well as an interactive sexual harassment prevention training on an annual basis. While both have historically been highly recommended, they are codified law now and if you haven’t yet implemented them, you need to do so before the quickly approaching deadline of October 9, 2019. Please keep in mind that there are no small employer exemptions for this law – it covers every employer of one or more persons. If you’d like more information or a check-up on your compliance, feel free to contact us. Allied Financial Partners has many resources available, and we’d be happy to discuss them with you!

Written by: Aimee Berkemeier, CPA