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New York mandates workers comp for farm laborers

Orchard workers in Hamlin, New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law on Wednesday a bill that requires farm employers to provide workers compensation for laborers, institutes injury reporting requirements and offers laborers additional protections. 

The legislation establishes the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which will provide farm workers with overtime pay, a day off each week, disability and paid family leave coverage, workers compensation and unemployment benefits. Previously, farm workers had largely been exempt from the state’s labor laws and other worker protections.

“By signing this bill into law, 100,000 farmers and their families will have better lives and will finally have the same protections that other workers have enjoyed for over 80 years,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. 

The act, which recognizes agriculture as a unique industry, grants collective bargaining rights to farm laborers, requires laborers to receive a minimum of 24 hours off each week, caps the work week at 60 hours per week, requires the payment of overtime, mandates sanitary codes be applied to farm worker housing, and removes a payroll threshold for requiring farm labor employers to obtain workers compensation. The legislation also requires farm laborers to report any injuries to their employer. 

The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.



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