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Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers have rights, too.

Agricultural workers help us keep our diets healthy and our bodies strong. They work long hours, often for low pay.

Labor standards are different for agriculture workers. Employees in agriculture are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They do not have to be paid time and a half their regular rates of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Any employer in agriculture who did not use more than 500 "man days" of agricultural labor in any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA for the current calendar year. A "man day" is defined as any day during which an employee performs agricultural work for at least one hour.

The minimum wage and overtime provisions exemption of the act for agricultural employees apply to the following:

(1)   Workers who are immediate family members of their employer.

(2)   Workers principally engaged on the range in the production of livestock.

(3)   Local hand harvest laborers who commute daily from their permanent residence, are paid on a piece rate basis in traditionally piece-rated occupations and were engaged in agriculture less than 13 weeks during the preceding calendar year.

(4)   Non-local minors, 16 years of age or under, who are hand harvesters, paid on a piece rate basis in traditionally piece-rated occupations, employed on the same farm as their parent and paid the same piece rate as those older than 16.

Agricultural workers are also protected by the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA). The MSPA provides protections, such as ensuring safe housing, to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. It is administered and enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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