Agricultural employers in California must prepare to overhaul
their compensation schemes under the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016 (Act), a new law signed by the Governor on September 12, 2016. The Act affects all persons "employed in an agricultural occupation" (essentially field workers), lowering special employer-favorable thresholds for overtime and thus bringing the industry in line with most other businesses in California. However, the Legislature is phasing-in one of these changes over five years for businesses employing 26 or more agricultural employees and over eight years for employers of 25 or fewer agricultural workers.
The first phase
-- applicable to all agricultural employers regardless of size -- begins January 1, 2017. Agricultural employers will generally no longer be exempt from the requirement that workers may not work more than six days in seven. (Labor Code 552; Labor Code 861.) However, Labor Code 554 permits an employer to have employees accumulate "days of rest when the nature of the employment reasonably requires that the employee work seven or more consecutive days, if in each calendar month the employee receives days of rest equivalent to one day's rest in seven." This permits an agricultural employer to run seven-day workweeks during harvest time.
Starting January 1, 2019,
agricultural employers with 26 or more employees will be required to pay daily overtime (generally, 1.5 times the employee's regular rate) as follows:
1) From January 1, 2019, for more than 9 1/2 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week;
2) From January 1, 2020, for more than 9 hours in a day or 50 hours in a week;
3) From January 1, 2021, for more than 8 1/2 hours in a day or 45 hours in a week;
4) From January 1, 2022, for more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, as well as no less than twice the employee's regular rate for all hours in excess of 12 hours in one day.
Employers with 25 or fewer employees
must implement the same overtime requirements on the following schedule:
1) From January 1, 2022, for more than 9 1/2 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week;
2) From January 1, 2023, for more than 9 hours in a day or 50 hours in a week;
3) From January 1, 2024, for more than 8 1/2 hours in a day or 45 hours in a week;
4) From January 1, 2025, for more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, as well as no less than twice the employee's regular rate for all hours in excess of 12 hours in one day.
For further information,
please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.
November 4, 2016
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