Farm Laborers Wage Board meets Sept. 6, expected to deliver report on OT threshold for farmworkers

Posted 31 August 2022 at 9:35 am

Press Release, NYS Department of Labor

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) announced the next meeting of the Farm Laborers Wage Board will be held virtually at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6.

The board is expected to deliver its report and final recommendations to NYSDOL Commissioner Roberta Reardon on the proposal to reduce the overtime threshold for farm workers from 60 hours to 40 hours a week.

A link to the meeting livestream will be made available on the Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage.

“I thank the Farm Laborers Wage Board for thoroughly examining this complex issue and for their service to New York State,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I’m also grateful for the many New Yorkers who provided input on this statewide discussion, which will be vital as we evaluate the state’s agricultural future. I look forward to reviewing the board’s report and recommendations before announcing my decision.”

Under the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act of 2019, farm laborers became entitled to overtime premium pay starting on January 1, 2020, for any work that they perform in excess of 60 hours per week, and for work performed on their designated day of rest. As required by the act, New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon convened a wage board comprised of the members in 2020.

Board members include Brenda McDuffie, former President and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League; David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President; and Denis Hughes, former President of the New York State AFL-CIO.

Per the statute, the wage board was tasked with considering and making recommendations regarding the extent to which the overtime threshold for farm laborers can be lowered below 60 hours per week and whether any such reductions should be phased-in through a series of successively lower thresholds.

To inform its decision, the board hosted one in-person public hearing in 2020 and eight virtual public hearings between 2020 and 2022 where testimony on the matter was heard from farm laborers, agricultural employers, academic experts, and elected officials, among others. Four virtual informational meetings were also held during this time.

On January 28, 2022, the Farm Laborers Wage Board passed three resolutions that made the following recommendations:

  • Reducing the overtime threshold for farm laborers from 60 hours to 40 hours a week;
  • The reduction of the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours will be phased in over a ten-year period, with reductions of four hours on a biannual basis;
  • The phase-in schedule would begin on January 1, 2024, with the threshold set at 56 hours; on January 1, 2026, with the threshold set at 52 hours; on January 1, 2028, with the threshold set at 48 hours; on January 1, 2030, with the threshold set at 44 hours; on January 1, 2032, with the threshold set at 40 hours.

Once the board delivers its report, Commissioner Reardon will have 45 days to review it and announce her decision. Within five days of receipt, DOL will publish notice in at least 10 newspapers of general circulation in the state. Any objections to the report and recommendations can be sent to the Commissioner within 15 days after such publication. Should the recommendations within the report be adopted, the Department will undergo a rule making process during which there will be a 60-day public comment period.