Mar. 15 2016

Assembly Bill Proposes An Eight Hour Workday and Forty Hour Workweek Standard For California Farmworkers

Topics: New Laws & Legislation, Wage & Hour Issues

Agricultural workers have long been exempted from California’s traditional overtime laws.  Instead farm workers have been subject to industry-specific overtime rules that allow companies to employ them for longer periods of time before overtime rates kick in.  Under current law, farmworkers in California operate on a ten hour day and sixty hour standard workweek.  Currently employers need only pay overtime to agricultural workers for all hours over ten in any work day and for the first eight hours on the seventh day of the work week, and double time for hours worked over eight on the seventh day of the workweek, with the exception that the worker may be employed on seven workdays in one workweek with no overtime pay when the total hours worked during the week do not exceed 30 and the total hours in any one workday do not exceed six.

California Assembly Bill 2757 would drastically reduce the number of hours an agricultural employee may work before these overtime rates are incurred.  Starting in July 2017, the proposed bill would require that overtime be paid for all hours in excess of nine and one half (9.5) hours in a day and fifty-five (55) hours in a workweek.  Additional restrictions would go into place on January 1, 2018 (9 per day/50 per week) and January 1, 2019 (8.5 per day/45 per week).  The bill, if enacted, would ultimately require employers to pay agricultural workers one and a half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over eight (8) in a day or forty (40) in a week, commencing on January 1, 2020.  The bill does not currently address whether or how double time should be applied. 

The bill applies to all individuals “employed in an agricultural occupation,” which generally includes all those occupied in the preparation, care, and treatment of farm land, pipe lines, or ditches, including the planting, cultivation, harvesting, packing and storing of agricultural commodities; the raising, feeding and management of livestock; the harvesting of fish; and farm maintenance.  

The bill was proposed on February 19 of this year and is currently before the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, with the first hearing expected in April.  We will keep you updated regarding significant developments.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent represents employers, including major food and retail companies, in all types of employment litigation: wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, wage and hour (California Labor Code) and unfair competition. She also regularly counsels and advises California employers on issues of compliance with California and federal employment laws.
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