Farmworkers in California will soon see changes to the wage and hour laws that govern their employment. While most workers in the state must receive overtime pay if they work over eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, farmworkers have long been exempted from these protections. However, laws are going into effect with the new year in 2019 that can provide some increased protections. California is the first state in the country to pass legislation requiring overtime pay for farmworkers.
Currently, farmworkers must receive overtime pay if they work more than 10 hours in one day or 60 hours weekly. With the new changes, overtime will kick in after 9 1/2 hours of work in a day or a 55-hour workweek. Currently, the legislation only applies to agricultural employers who hire at least 26 workers. Smaller employers will only be liable to pay overtime in 2022. The legislation may have the greatest impact on large agricultural firms that employ technically skilled workers to operate dairy systems, irrigators and other types of heavy equipment.
More changes are to come in 2022, when farmworkers who work more than 12 hours in a day will get paid double time for the extra hours. In addition, 2019 will also see a minimum wage increase from $11 per hour to $12. At the same time, some fear that employers will try to evade the laws by using contractors or purporting to be smaller than they really are.
Farmworkers are only one sector of the labor force regularly subject to wage and hour violations and other forms of exploitation. People who are working without being paid properly for their work can consult with an employment law attorney to take action and seek compensation for their unpaid wages and other damages.