Labor commissioner supports reducing overtime threshold for farm workers
New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Commissioner Roberta Reardon today issued an order accepting the recommendation of the Farm Laborers Wage Board to lower the current 60-hour threshold for overtime pay to 40 hours per week by January 1, 2032, allowing 10 years to phase in the new threshold. The Board included its recommendation in a report that the Board voted to advance to the Commissioner during its final meeting on September 6, 2022, following a two-year process and 14 public meetings and hearings. Following a rulemaking process to enact the Commissioner's Order, farm work in excess of 40 hours per week would be required to be compensated at overtime rates, as it is in other occupations.
“I thank the Farm Laborers Wage Board and all New Yorkers who provided insight and input during this inclusive process,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I come from a farm community myself, so I know how important the agricultural sector is to the New York State economy. Based on the findings, I feel the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendations are the best path forward to ensure equity for farm workers and success for agricultural businesses.”
Beginning in 2020, the Board held public hearings to gather testimony from farm owners, workers, advocacy groups, and academic researchers. Recordings of these hearings and additional materials are available on the NYSDOL’s Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage. The report released on September 6 documents and summarizes the Board’s process and its findings. The Board was convened pursuant to the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act passed by the New York State Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2019.
The Board’s report recommended that the reduction in overtime hours take place by reducing the overtime work limit by 4 hours every other year beginning in 2024 until reaching 40 hours in 2032, giving agriculture businesses proper time to adjust.
During the course of the Board's deliberations in 2022, the Governor and Legislature enacted three new tax credits to assist farm employers in transitioning to a lower overtime standard.
- The Investment Tax Credit was increased from 4 percent to 20 percent for farm businesses, providing an encouragement for potential automation of farm production.
- The Farm Workforce Retention Tax Credit was increased to $1,200 per employee to provide near-term relief to farmers.
- Most importantly, a new refundable overtime tax credit was established for overtime hours paid by farm employers at the level established by the Board and confirmed by the Commissioner up to 60 hours.
The Board noted that these actions by the Governor and Legislature were supportive of food production and provided a means for farms to transition to a lower overtime standard.
NYSDOL will now be undergoing a rule-making process which will include a 60-day public comment period. Further details about the rulemaking process will be posted on the NYSDOL’s Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage.
More information on the Farm Laborers Wage Board process and next steps can be found on NYSDOL’s Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage.