New California laws guarantee overtime protections to agricultural and domestic workers
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

New California laws guarantee overtime protections to agricultural and domestic workers

By Pamela Wolf, J.D. California Governor Edmond G. Brown on September 12 signed into law a pair of bills that guarantee overtime to some of the most vulnerable workers in the state. His approval of the Phase-In Overtime for Agricultural Workers Act of 2016, A.B. 1066, means that agricultural workers will be entitled to overtime compensation and other wage and hour protections under a schedule that will be phased in based on the number of hours worked and the size of the employer. S.B. 1015 continues the overtime and other protections extended by the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which otherwise would have been repealed on January 1, 2017. Agricultural workers. A.B. 1066 removes the agriculture employee exemption for hours, meal breaks, and other working conditions, including specified wage requirements. It creates a schedule that phases in overtime requirements for agricultural workers, as defined, over the course of four years, from 2019 to 2022, and beginning on January 1, 2022, requires that any work performed by a person employed in an agricultural occupation in excess of 12 hours in one day be compensated at the rate of no less than twice the employee’s regular rate of pay. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are given an additional three years to comply with the phasing-in of these overtime requirements. The bill also creates a state-mandated local program by including agricultural employees as a class of employees protected by criminal penalties under existing law. Specifically, A.B. 1066 phases in overtime protections on the following dates:
  • January 1, 2019: Agricultural employees may not be employed more than nine and one-half hours in a workday or work in excess of 55 hours in a workweek, unless they are paid one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over nine and one-half hours in a workday or over 55 hours in a workweek. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not required to comply until January 1, 2022.
  • January 1, 2020: Agricultural employees may not be employed more than nine hours in a workday or work in excess of 50 hours in a workweek, unless they are paid one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over nine hours in a workday or over 50 hours in a workweek. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not required to comply until January 1, 2023.
  • January 1, 2021: Agricultural employees may not be employed more than eight and one-half hours in a workday or work in excess of 45 hours in a workweek, unless they are paid one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight and one-half hours in a workday or over 45 hours in a workweek. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not required to comply until January 1, 2024.
  • January 1, 2022: Agricultural employees may not be employed more than eight hours in a workday or work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek, unless they are paid one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over eight hours in a workday or over 40 hours in a workweek. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not required to comply until January 1, 2025.
  • January 1, 2022: Consistent with Section 510 of the Labor Code, any work performed by an agricultural employee in excess of 12 hours in a day must be compensated at the rate of no less than twice the employee’s regular rate of pay. Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not subject to this provision until January 1, 2025.
Except for the provisions above, all other provisions of Chapter 1 (starting with Section 500) concerning compensation for overtime work apply to agricultural employees beginning January 1, 2017. The other provisions of Section 510 are applicable to agricultural employees on January 1, 2019, except that they do not apply to employers with 25 or fewer employees until January 1, 2025. The governor may suspend the phased-in schedule under specified circumstances. Domestic workers. Currently, the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights regulates the hours of work for domestic work employees who are personal attendants and provides an overtime compensation rate for those employees. That law is set to be repealed on January 1, 2017. A.B. 1015 deletes the repeal date. By extending the effect of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, the violation of which is a misdemeanor, this bill would expand the definition of a crime, which would impose a state-mandated local program. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez applauded Governor Brown’s approval of both measures. "People who work on farms and in our homes are some of America’s most vulnerable workers," he said in a statement. "We all depend on their work to feed and care for our families, but far too often they can’t afford to put food on their own dinner tables. … With these laws, California farmworkers will have the same overtime protections that workers in other industries have enjoyed for decades, and overtime protections for domestic workers implemented in 2013 will continue. I commend Gov. Brown for ensuring strong, sensible safeguards for farmworkers and their families, and I commend the California legislature for their ongoing efforts to protect the most vulnerable workers in their state."

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