Friday Roundup: Calendar Week, Sick Leave, Housing Guidance, COVID-19 Survey for Producers

Today we have a round-up of items that farm employers need to know.

Calendar Week

Under New York’s 2019 Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) and the amendments to it under the 2020 budget act, farm laborers are entitled to a day of rest in each and every calendar week. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) has a special definition of calendar week for NY agricultural employers, as follows:

“What is a calendar week? For purposes of compliance with the overtime and day of rest of the FLFLPA, the term calendar week will mean an established, recurring, consecutive 7 days designated by the employer. A calendar week may not be changed from week to week.

Please see slide 6 and 7 in the NYSDOL presentation linked here. The same definition also appears in this updated NYSDOL FAQ, it is item number 18. I talked with NYSDOL personally on July 30, 2020 and they confirmed with me that they stand by this definition. For easier record keeping, farms should consider matching their calendar week for day-of-rest and overtime purposes with their payroll week.

Sick Leave

Employers are aware of the coronavirus-related emergency sick leave that New York required on a temporary basis, but it is important to note that New York, in the 2020 budget act, also mandated annual sick leave on a permanent basis. There is no exemption for farm employers from this permanent sick leave but the requirement does vary by employer size, as follow:

  • For employers with 4 or fewer employees and less than $1 Million in net income: 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per employee
  • For employers with 4 or fewer employees and greater than $1 Million in net income: 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee
  • For employers with between 5 and 99 employees: 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee
  • For employers with greater than 100 employees: 56 hours of paid sick leave per employee

Note that this is a new requirement for all employers, if you already provide sick leave that meets or exceed these levels then you have already met the requirement. The new law has detailed requirements about reasons for sick leave that your policy must also meet. Employees can accrue sick time at a rate of no less than 1 hour of sick time per 30 hours worked, or the employer can choose to award all of the sick time up front at the beginning of the calendar year. Unused sick time must carry over to the next year but employers with less than 100 employees can limit accrued sick time to 40 hours, and employers with greater than 100 employees can limit it to 56 hours. Important dates to note: employers must begin to accrue sick leave for employees on September 30, 2020 and employees become eligible to use the sick leave on January 1, 2021. See this article from the National Law Review for more details. Cornell Ag Workforce Development is working to clarify aspects of this new requirement and to prepare educational opportunities to help farms get into compliance…stay tuned for more!

Farm-Provided Employee Housing Guidance for Farms and State or Local Agencies

Earlier this week Deputy Commissioner Trodden at NY Ag & Markets issued the following statement about farm-provided employee housing:

“In order to ensure consistency with the federal guidance documents moving forward state agencies and or local health departments issuing permits related to farm worker housing shall do by utilizing the guidance outlined in the Interim Guidance for Prevention and Response document and/or the CDC guidance provided in the link below.”

Agriculture Workers and Employers Interim Guidance from CDC and the U.S. Department of Labor

Interim Guidance for Prevention and Response of COVID-19 at Farms from New York State Departments of Health and Ag & Markets.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Producer Action Survey

Farm managers and employees are taking many steps to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Please take a few minutes to report the actions your farm is taking using Cornell Ag Workforce Development’s producer action survey. Access the survey here: COVID-19 Producer Action Survey

By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post Friday Factsheet: Calendar Week, Sick Leave, Housing Guidance, COVID Survey appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

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