The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) on Wednesday announced the adoption of the final farm labor overtime regulations, codifying Commissioner Roberta Reardon’s order that accepted the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s report and recommendations in September.
The phased-in, gradual reduction in the overtime pay threshold will begin on Jan. 1, 2024, with the threshold set at 56 hours. The process will continue with the overtime threshold limit reducing by four hours every other year until reaching 40 hours in 2032.
“These new regulations ensure equity for farm workers, who are the very backbone of our agriculture sector,” Reardon said. “By implementing a gradual transition, we are giving farmers time to make the appropriate adjustments. These new regulations advance New York state’s continued commitment to workers while protecting our farms.”
Beginning in 2020, the Farm Laborers Wage 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 webpage.
In her State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a series of new initiatives her team said are “designed to bolster demand for New York state foods, increase the purchasing of local farm products, and encourage investments to modernize New York’s farms.
“The governor and the New York State Legislature also recently enacted new tax credits to assist farm employers to ease the implementation of the lower overtime standard.”
√ “The Investment Tax Credit was increased from 4% to 20% 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.
√ “A refundable tax credit was established for overtime hours paid by farm employers at the level established by the new regulation up to 60 hours.”
For more information about the new regulations, visit the Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage.
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said, “Today’s announcement by the commissioner of labor is the wrong one. The push to lower the threshold to 40 hours per week, despite concerns raised by farmers and farm workers, is exactly what this labor board was planning all along. Their pledges to work with all parties involved in this matter were disingenuous, and today, they displayed that they had zero interest in working together.
“Our family farmers are already struggling with skyrocketing inflation, high unemployment insurance taxes, and a severe worker shortage. This is one more burdensome mandate passed on by unelected bureaucrats that will cause more harm. Instead of working to make New York more affordable, one-party rule continues to impose anti-business policies that drive up costs for our small businesses and family farms.”