For many people, the state of California brings to mind sunny beaches, perfect weather, wine tours and celebrity sightings. The majority of the state, however, much more rural and agricultural than it is portrayed in the media.
Due to California’s long growing season and favorable soil conditions, the state provides much of the country’s produce. In fact, California is country’s largest producer of all fruits, vegetables, wine, and nuts. Additionally, the state ranks third in livestock production, behind only Texas and Iowa.
Recently, workers in the agricultural industry gained new protections and rights in regard to overtime pay. On September 12, 2016, the governor signed into law the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016 (also known as AB 1066).
People who are employed in agricultural occupations include those in traditional farming and livestock-related jobs as well as people who work in gardening or landscaping, some types of food or plant processing jobs, or people who work in places like fisheries, apiaries, or greenhouses.
Previously, employers in the agricultural industry were only required to pay workers overtime if they work more than 10 hours in a shift. Under AB 1066, the ten-hour requirement will be reduced in three stages.
Beginning in 2019, the number of hours an employee must work before being owed overtime will decrease by a half hour. So, in 2019, overtime will be owed after 9.5 hours; in 2020, overtime will be required after 9 hours, and so on. Once the law is completely phased in during 2022, agricultural workers will be entitled to overtime pay after working for 8 hours. Additionally, the law will require workers to receive double pay for any time they work over twelve hours in a given day.
At the same time, the law will also affect how many hours an employee must work in a certain week before receiving overtime pay. Also beginning in 2019, this number will decrease to 55 hours per week and will be reduced by 5 hours per week annually until 2022. At that point, agricultural employees will be entitled to overtime pay after 40 hours of work in a week.
There is no doubt that working in the agricultural industry is difficult. Workers are prone to exploitation by their employers, and are often underpaid and overworked. If you or someone you love is being mistreated on the job by an agricultural employer, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages. Always speak with an experienced California wage and hour attorney about your concerns and make sure that you are being paid what you are owed.