January 18, 2017

Felicia Reid Explores 2016 California Wage-and-Hour Law Affecting Agricultural Workers in Daily Journal

HK’s Felicia Reid authored the Los Angeles/San Francisco Daily Journal “New Laws” supplement article titled, “AB 1066: Overtime for farmworkers.” The piece unpacks the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016, a wage-and-hour law affecting California agricultural workers.

AB 1066: Overtime for farmworkers 

Assembly Bill 1066, the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016, as its title suggests, phases in full coverage of California’s stringent overtime requirements for the state’s agricultural workers. These stringent overtime requirements are triggered when employees work beyond an eight-hour day, a 40-hour workweek, and/or a six-day workweek. Currently, overtime requirements for agricultural are far weaker. The four-year phase-in period does not begin until 2019, with an additional three-year delay for small employers.

California is one of the few states to require overtime of any kind for agricultural workers. They have historically been exempt from overtime under federal law. California currently exempts agricultural workers from weekly overtime. Under Wage Order 14, however, the state has long required payment of time-and-a-half overtime after 10 hours of work in any workday and after eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work in a workweek, as well as double-time overtime after eight hours on that seventh day. Under AB 1066, at the point of full coverage in 2022, agricultural workers will earn overtime identically to their nonexempt counterparts in other industries: time-and-a-half after working eight hours in a workday and 40 hours in a workweek, and for the first eight hours of work on the seventh consecutive day in a workweek, as well as double-time after working 12 hours in a workday and after eight hours on the seventh consecutive day in a workweek.

The phase-in schedule begins in Jan. 1, 2019, with the 10-hour daily overtime trigger lowered by half an hour per year, from 9.5 hours in 2019 to 8 hours in 2011. Weekly overtime is also phased in, with an initial weekly overtime trigger of 55 hours in January 2019, which is lowered by five hours per year to 40 hours in 2022. Only in January 2022 does the 12-hour trigger for daily double-time go into effect. For employers of 25 or fewer employees, the phase-in schedule is delayed by three years until January 2022, with full implementation delayed to 2025.

The legislation also removes the agricultural worker exemption from statutory meal period requirements found in Labor Code Section 541. However, Wage Order 14 has historically provided substantially the same meal and rest period rights to agricultural workers as are provided to other employees, including a half-hour duty free meal period after five hours of work and a ten-minute paid rest break for each four-hour work period. AB 1066 makes clear that the stringent statutory requirements as to timing of these breaks now apply identically in the fields of California’s farms and vineyards as in other work environments in the state.

Originally published in the Los Angeles/San Francisco Daily Journal, January, 18, 2017. Copyright 2017 Daily Journal Corporation, reprinted with permission.