With the arrival of the New Year, most of the Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) regulating New York farm employers is now in effect. Overtime, Day of Rest, Collective Bargaining, and increased insurance requirements are now in place for most frontline, non-family farm employees. Employers should carefully track hours worked for most, if not all, employees and pay overtime for eligible employees who agree to work more than 60 hours in a calendar week designated by the farm. Farms should also update their work agreements with employees to indicate how many hours of work will be expected each week and to clarify how overtime pay and day-of-rest rules will apply to each employee.
Farm industry groups and state government agencies such as NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL) and NYS Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) worked together in the last quarter of 2019 to communicate details of FLFLPA to farm employers. During this process, industry leaders became convinced that aspects of the FLFLPA were inconsistent and problematic with respect to farm family members, supervisors, shareholders, executive, and administrative employees. On December 30, 2019 the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA) filed a lawsuit with the federal court in Western New York seeking a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of FLFLPA only for family members, supervisors, shareholders, executive, and administrative employees. The judge granted the industry groups’ request so the FLFLPA cannot be enforced for these specific employees until the next court hearing which is scheduled for January 24, 2020.
Quote from the judge’s temporary restraining order:
“3. For the duration of the temporary restraining order: (a) To the extent the Act requires agricultural employers, as defined in New York Labor Law § 701(2)(b), to treat as farm laborers under New York Labor Law § 701(3)(c) any individual related to the employer to the third degree of consanguinity or affinity; any foreperson in charge; or any bona fide executive, administrator, professional, or supervisor (“Family and Supervisory Employees”), the defendants [NY Governor, Attorney General, and Commissioner of Labor] are temporarily enjoined from enforcing the Act in such manner.”
I repeat to be very clear, for all non-family, frontline employees, FLFLPA went into effect on January 1 as scheduled.
Employers should also be advised that with the new year comes an increase in New York’s minimum wage. According to the New York Minimum Wage Order for Farm Workers, the minimum wage for most of upstate New York is now $11.80 per hour. For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties the new minimum wage rate is $13.00 per hour.
By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post New Labor Laws (Mostly) in Effect for New York Farm Employers appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal