Florida Overtime Laws for Agricultural Workers
As an agriculture employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that your employees have proper and safe working conditions and are fairly compensated.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) agriculture exemption, your obligations may vary from those of a standard employer. Understanding Florida agriculture overtime laws will help keep you compliant and in good standing with your employees.
Florida Agriculture Overtime Laws
The FLSA exists to provide a fair wage standard to all employees. This includes requiring minimum wage payment and overtime of time and a half when employees work over 40 hours in a week. However, some employers are exempt from these rules, and that is where Florida agriculture overtime laws require a closer look.
FLSA Agriculture Exemption
The agriculture industry has a lot of moving parts, and not all industries fall under the FLSA agriculture exemption. Several types of employees fall under the agriculture overtime exemption.
Employees compensated on a piece-rate scale are exempt under the FLSA. Suchy employees are non-migrant workers employed in agriculture as hand-harvest laborers for fewer than 13 weeks during the previous year who commute to work daily.
Any agriculture employee who is 16 years of age or younger and employed as a hand-harvest laborer is also exempt. These employees are paid a piece-rate in an operation that is recognized as a piece-rate employer. They must be employed by the same operation as their family and paid the same rate as adult employees.
Livestock Range Production
Employees primarily engaged in livestock range production and needing to be available at all hours to care for livestock are also exempt. This applies only if the nature of the work would make computing exact labor hours very difficult.
Members of the employer’s immediate family are excluded from minimum wage and agriculture overtime laws.
Employees whose employer did not use more than 500 man-days of agricultural labor during any calendar quarter of the previous year are exempt from the minimum wage requirements but not overtime. The FLSA agriculture exemption defines a “man-day” as a day during which an employee worked a minimum of one hour. 500 man-days equal approximately seven full-time employees working five days a week.
Florida-Specific Agriculture Overtime Laws
A state mandate for labor laws typically supersedes federal law if it provides additional protections. In the case of Florida agriculture overtime laws, the state does not have any specific regulations. This means that Florida agriculture employers should refer to the FLSA rules. The same is true for minimum wage exemptions.
Agriculture Payroll Record Keeping
Though an employee may fall under the FLSA agriculture exemption for overtime, they must still be compensated for each hour worked at their normal rate. It is important for employers to keep accurate and complete records for payroll. Records must include the employee’s:
- Full name,
- Social security number,
- Full address,
- Date of birth if under 19 years of age,
- Total hours worked every week,
- Regular hourly rate,
- Method of payment,
- Total weekly earnings,
- Deductions or additions from the paycheck,
- Total wages for the pay period, and
- Date of payment.
These records could change on a weekly basis, and the duties of the employee are especially important when it comes to determining exemption. The FLSA has a “look back” period that extends for three years, so it is important to keep records for at least that period of time.
When Employees Are Both Exempt and Non-Exempt
One of the biggest pain points of Florida agriculture overtime exemption is reclassification of the employee from an exempt position to non-exempt. Because of the dynamic nature of many agriculture operations, it is easy for an employee to be re-assigned temporarily or permanently to a non-exempt position without even realizing it.
This happens often when the operation handles products that are not their own such as shipping or processing commodities produced by other companies. A hand-harvest laborer who meets the requirements of agriculture overtime exemption is no longer exempt if they are asked to load and unload commodities that they did not harvest. Their exemption becomes nullified, and they are owed time-and-a-half for any time over 40 hours in the week.
H2-A Worker Overtime Exemption
The H2-A visa program allows employers to hire temporary foreign laborers to make up for the lack of domestic labor. It is a common assumption that all H2-A workers fall under the FLSA agricultural exemption. This is not necessarily true. Workers must still fit into one of the standards for exemption depending on their duties. Otherwise, the employer must pay minimum wage and overtime.
Liability for Lack of Compliance
Agriculture employers who fail to comply with FLSA regulations may face audits or administrative actions by the United States Labor Department and potentially lawsuits filed by employees. Many employers work with farm labor contractors to obtain employees. Employers and contractors may be jointly liable for lack of compliance.
Talk to an Agricultural Business Lawyer About Your Obligations
Agriculture overtime exemption laws can become complicated depending on the nature of your agriculture operation.
Kara Groves is an experienced agriculture attorney who knows how difficult it can be to balance running a business and navigating legal compliance. Kara is based in Mount Dora, Florida, and accepts clients from across the state. Let her help you set up a system for compliance and fight for your rights as an agriculture employer so that you can focus on what you do best.
Contact Groves Law for a consultation.
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