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Farmworkers face reduced hours amid new overtime rules

New York State’s new overtime threshold for farmworkers, effective January 1, 2024, has led to confusion and reduced working hours, affecting both farm owners and their employees. The rule, lowering the overtime threshold from 60 to 56 hours, aims to ensure fair compensation but has inadvertently caused several farms to cut staff hours. Farmworkers, like Nestor Naranjo of Hemdale Farms, express concerns about the impact on their income, especially for those supporting families abroad.

Farm owners say they are struggling to balance the new regulations with the demands of agricultural work. The law’s gradual reduction of the overtime threshold to 40 hours over the next decade further intensifies these challenges. Despite a state-provided tax credit for overtime costs, the complexity of the application process adds to the burden for farm owners.

The changes have sparked concerns about biosecurity risks due to potential increased movement of workers between farms, and the possibility of farmworkers seeking employment in states without such regulations. The situation highlights the need for clearer guidance and support for both employers and employees in the agricultural sector to adapt to these new regulations.