What is an Agricultural Employee?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Agriculture includes farming in all its branches when performed by a farmer or on a farm as an incident to or in conjunction with such farming operations.

Virtually all employees engaged in agriculture are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in that they produce goods for interstate commerce.  There are, however, some exemptions which exempt certain employees from the minimum wage provisions, overtime pay provisions, or both.

Employees who are employed in agriculture as that term is defined in the FLSA are exempt from the overtime pay provisions.  They do not have to be paid time and one half their regular rates of pay for hours worked in excess of forty per week.

Agriculture does not include work performed on a farm which is not incidental to or in conjunction with such farmer’s farming operation.  It also does not include operations performed off a farm if performed by employees employed by someone other than the farmer whose agricultural products are being worked on.

Any employer in agriculture who did not utilize 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.

Additional exemptions from the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA for agricultural employees apply to the following:

  • Agricultural employees who are immediate family members of their employer
  • Those principally engaged on the range in the production of livestock
  • 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 thirteen weeks during the preceding calendar year
  • 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 over 16.

For further requirements regarding agricultural employees, please visit //www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs12.pdf

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