NYSDOL Updates Guidance FAQ About NY Farm Labor Laws

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) recently released a new set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) that address the 2019 Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) and the recent changes to FLFLPA that were made in the New York budget process. Find the FAQ here: https://labor.ny.gov/immigrants/farm-laborers-fair-labor-practices-act/flflpa-frequently-asked-questions.pdf

Pay special attention to the set of questions under the heading “Coverage.” This section includes NYSDOL’s interpretation of who is a “farm laborer” and who is not. Be aware that being family doesn’t just require the common definition of the concept. As question 6 indicates, to be defined as family also requires a certain sense of obligation to the business and that pay is not based on hours or days of work. The law is in effect now but NYSDOL continues to be prevented from enforcing it with respect to family members and other exempt employee by the temporary restraining order issued by a federal judge in Buffalo. This situation will likely continue until the lawsuit is resolved.

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development and other industry organizations are continuing to seek information and clarification from NYSDOL about important details and questions that the new laws raise.

By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post NYSDOL Updates Guidance FAQ About NY Farm Labor Laws appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

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Support for Writing Farm Safety Plans

New York State requires businesses to have a specific business safety plan in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes all farms, both food and non-food producing. In addition, a well-written and executed business safety plan will help reduce business liability risk during and after the pandemic. A Cornell Task Force recently developed materials to directly support farms in the plan writing process.

Check out the details in this Welcome Video,

Find the full resources on this page: https://agworkforce.cals.cornell.edu/ny-forward-business-safety-plan/ ,

Use this Step by Step Video on How to Access Documents.

And see the Flyer with webinar details here.

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Paycheck Protection Program: Producers Can Apply Now

New information from NY State Department of Ag and Markets on the new federal Paycheck Protection Program:

Question: How can I access the federal Paycheck Protection Program for my agricultural or food related business?

The Department of Treasury and Small Business Administration (SBA) released an interim final rule on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Agricultural producers and food processors are eligible to participate in the program and should reach out to their bankers and/or agricultural lenders to apply immediately. While SBA still needs to confirm some administrative details, loans will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis and producers and processors can get started on the application now.

The best Point of Contract for questions on the Paycheck Protection Program is the Lender Relations Specialist in your local SBA Field Office.  The local SBA Field Office may be found at https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices.

Enforce “New York State on PAUSE” at Your Farm

The 10-point plan applies to everyone in New York state, including everyone working on farms. Farm managers should  reinforce with all employees the importance of following all of these orders for the safety of everyone, this is not optional. Here is a Spanish-language poster with the same 10 points that you can print.

Form the government of the State of New York:

Governor Cuomo announced the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone.

The 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan is as follows:

  1. Effective at 8PM on Sunday, March 22, all non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;
  2. Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;
  3. Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;
  4. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;
  5. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;
  6. Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;
  7. Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
  8. Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;
  9. Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and
  10. Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.

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Guidance for Respirator Fit Testing from NYCAMH

The NY Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, NYCAMH, normally provides respirator fit testing clinics to be sure safety equipment is properly protecting farm employees from pesticides. In this time of COVID-19 there are significant changes to this process, please see the following website for guidance from NYCAMH:

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NY Farm Labor Wage Board Hearings Scheduled

The long-awaited New York Farm Labor Wage Board is organized and scheduled to meet on 5 dates and locations from late February through March. Farms should make plans to attend and testify at the wage board hearings about how overtime rules affect their farm businesses and employees. The schedule is as follows and more information can be found at the links below.

  • Friday 2/28 – Albany – New York State Museum Cultural Education Center, Clark Auditorium, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230
  • Friday 3/13 – Syracuse – Onondaga Community College, Storer Auditorium, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215
  • Monday 3/23 – Binghamton – Binghamton University, Symposium Hall, Center of Excellence Building Innovative Technology Complex, 45 Murray Hill Road, Vestal, NY 13850
  • Thursday 4/16 – Long Island – Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville, NY 11738
  • Thursday 4/23 – Batavia- Genesee Community College, William Stuart Forum, 1 College Rd, Batavia, NY 14020

NY Farm Bureau issued a press release with more details and guidance for farmers.

NYS Department of Labor posted a webpage with information about the wage board and with links to register to testify at one of the hearings.

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