Key Employment Requirements for Agricultural Workplaces

Federal and state laws and regulations set minimum employment standards for agricultural workplaces. Those standards are numerous and complex. This checklist covers many of them. It does not list every rule and may include some that do not apply to you, however; you should therefore consult an employment law attorney or consultant for more details.



Workers' Compensation

Employer must have a workers' compensation insurance policy or be permissibly self-insured

Workers' compensation notice must be posted and given to employees

Unemployment Insurance

Employment Development Department registration number

Federal Taxes

Internal Revenue Service employer identification number

Employment Eligibility Verification

Must verify on INS Form I-9 the eligibility of every newly-hired employee to work in the United States

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Child Labor

Minors below age 12 may neither work in agriculture nor be near moving equipment or unprotected chemicals or water hazards (grower's children excepted)

Permits to Work and Permits to Employ must be on file for at least 3 years for older minors (grower's children and high school graduates excepted)

Limits on hours of work must be observed (grower's children excepted, but must attend school when in session)

Minors below age 18 may not mix or load certain pesticides

Minors below age 16 may not work in hazardous agricultural occupations (example: near moving machinery) (grower's children excepted)

Minor children notice must be posted

Property owner who benefits from a minor's employment and who knowingly allows child labor violations to occur is liable for them, even if not the minor's employer

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Farm Labor Contractors (FLCs)

Verify that FLC is federally registered and state licensed (best way: get and keep a photocopy of each document)

Keep for at least 3 years a copy of FLC's payroll records for FLC crews supplied to grower

Grower who is a joint employer of FLC's employees or who uses an unlicensed FLC is liable for FLC's violations

Recommended: Have FLC direct his workers' compensation carrier to send you a certificate of insurance

Other Posters and Notices

Other IWC orders as applicable

  • 4 (e.g., clericals of an employer whose only other employees are covered by Order 14
  • 8 (post-harvest handling of commodities not produced by the employer, usually including its clericals)
  • 13 (post-harvest handling of commodities produced only by the employer, usually including its clericals)

Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act poster

Employee Polygraph Protection Act poster

California nondiscrimination poster (5 or more employees)

Federal nondiscrimination poster (15 or more employees)

Federal Minimum Wage poster

Cal/OSHA: Safety and Health Protection on the Job; Form No. 200; others as applicable, based on activities

Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order 14 (ag occupations)

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Minimum Wage

In general, all nonexempt employees must be paid at least $7.25/hr no matter whether wages are earned on an hourly, piece-rate, commission or salary basis

Piece-rate earnings are averaged over a workweek to determine whether minimum wage is achieved

Housing and Meals Credited Against Minimum Wage

Employee must authorize in writing

IWC orders limit credit amounts

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Overtime Premium Pay

Almost all nonexempt employees--even those paid a salary or by piece rate--must receive overtime premium pay

IWC Order 14

  • Hours over 10 in a workday and first 8 hours on 7th day of work in a workweek: 1 1/2 times regular pay rate (RPR)
  • Hours over 8 on 7th day of work in a workweek: 2 times RPR

IWC Orders 4, 8 and 13 (and most others)

  • 9th-12th hours in a workday, hours over 40 in a workweek, and first 8 hours on 7th day of work in a workweek: 1 1/2 times RPR
  • Hours over 12 in a workday and over 8 on 7th day of work in a workweek: 2 times RPR


  • Irrigators (over 1/2 of time worked in a workweek)
  • Drivers of certain large trucks (generally, weighing at least 6,000 lbs. with 3 or more axles)
  • Certain part-time agricultural employees (up to 6 hours in a workday and 30 hours in a workweek)

Caution: An employee who during a workweek processes, packs or otherwise handles after harvest any amount of any commodity not produced by his employer must be paid 1 1/2 times RPR for all hours worked over 40 in that workweek, even if most of the employee's work is agricultural

Deductions not mandated by law require employee's written authorization

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Payment of Wages

At least semimonthly (exception: at least weekly for FLC employees)

Immediately upon discharge or layoff

Within 72 hours after voluntary quit

Itemized Statement given to employee with wage payment

Employee name and social security number

Basis on which wages are paid (for example, "$5.75/hr." or "$.20/vine pruned")

Total hours worked

Number of piece work units produced (if applicable)

Total pay period earnings

Purpose and amount of any sum withheld

Net pay

Employer's name, address and IRS employer ID number

Inclusive dates of pay period

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Employer Records

Employer's name and address

Employee's name, record identifier (if any), permanent address, sex, occupation, social security number and, if under age 18, birth date and designation as minor

Day and time when workweek starts

Starting and ending times of each work period (meal periods in which operations stop and mandatory rest periods excluded)

Number of piece work units produced, if applicable

Total hours worked each workday, workweek and payroll period

Date, purpose and amount of any sum withheld from or added to wages

Net pay

Total pay period earnings, including value of board, lodging or other compensation

Basis on which wages are paid (for example, "$5.75/hr." or "$.20/vine pruned")

Pay date and period payment covers

Keep records for at least 3 years; but it's prudent to keep them for 4 years to defend claims under state's unfair competition laws (Business & Professions Code sections 17200-17209)

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Reporting Time Pay

Half of usual day's pay (at least 2 but not more than 4 hours) for employee who reports for work but is given less than 1/2 of usual day's work; most typical exception is for an Act of God or other cause beyond employer's control

Tools and Equipment

Employer must provide and maintain required or necessary tools and equipment for employees earning less than twice the minimum wage

Funds securing return of equipment deposited in a joint bank savings account

Deduction from employee's final pay for lost equipment allowed only upon employee's prior written authorization and only where loss is due to employee's dishonest, willful or grossly-negligent act

Meal Periods

Allow a 30-minute unpaid meal period in a 5-hour work period; employer and employee may waive it if a work period of 6 or fewer hours will complete day's work; employer and employee may agree to on-duty paid meal period if task requires it

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Rest Periods

Allow a 10-minute paid rest period per 4 hours of work or major fraction thereof, based on total workday hours; none required if employee works under 3 1/2 hours in a workday

Transportation of Workers

Licensing of drivers

Vehicle safety standards and inspection stickers


Inspections and permits under state Employee Housing Act if 5 or more employees are housed

Compliance with federal housing standards for migrant agricultural workers

Federal migrant agricultural worker housing poster

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Field Sanitation in hand-labor operations

Toilet Facilities

  • Crew with 1-4 employees: one toilet, even if a mixed-sex crew
  • Crew with 5 or more employees: one toilet per 20 employees of each sex, or fraction thereof
  • Toilet paper in suitable holder
  • Screened
  • Chemical toilet waste water tank must be able to hold at least 40 gallons and must contain effective odor-control and solid-liquefying chemicals
  • Keep service & maintenance records for at least 2 years

Hand washing Facilities

  • One per 20 employees or fraction thereof
  • Water tank must be able to hold at least 15 gallons and be refilled with potable water as necessary
  • Soap and single-use towels provided
  • Sign posted stating: This water is for hand washing only

Toilet and Hand washing Facilities

  • Located near each other
  • Within a 1/4-mile or 5-minute walk of employees, whichever is shorter; where terrain prevents this, then at the point closest to vehicular access
  • Ventilated and rigidly-constructed, with self-closing doors, lockable from inside
  • Inside surfaces must be nonabsorbent, smooth, readily-cleanable, and light-colored
  • Clean and sanitary
  • Alternative compliance: May provide transportation to facilities if: (1) employees are performing fieldwork for under 2 hours (including transportation time) or (2) 4 or fewer employees are engaged in hand-labor operations on a given day

Drinking Water

  • Pure, cool water must always be readily available
  • Dispensed by fountain or single-use cups
  • Container must be covered, protected and kept clean

Good hygiene practices notice

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Other Safety and Health Requirements

Written Injury and Illness Prevention Program

Written Hazard Communication Program

First-aid kit and person trained in its use

Migrant and Seasonal Ag Worker Protection Act Disclosure

Disclose this information in writing to a recruited migrant or seasonal day-haul agricultural worker when the worker is recruited and to a seasonal agricultural worker upon the worker's request when the worker is offered employment:

  • Place of employment, including employer's name and address
  • Wage rates (including piece rates) to be paid
  • Crops and activities the worker may be employed in
  • Period of employment
  • Any transportation, housing and other benefit to be provided, and any cost to be charged for them
  • Workers' compensation and unemployment insurance
  • Existence of any strike or other concerted work stoppage
  • Existence of any arrangement under which the grower or FLC receives a commission or other benefit from sales to workers
  • Workers' compensation carrier and policyholder information

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