On Sept. 30, 2022, New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon announced that she has accepted the New York Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendation to lower the overtime threshold for agricultural workers from 60 hours down to 40 hours. During its Sept. 6, 2022 meeting, the board voted 2-1 in favor of submitting its report recommending a 10-year phase in schedule for a 40-hour threshold. The overtime threshold will be reduced by four hours every two years beginning on Jan. 1, 2024 until it reaches 40 hours in the year 2032.
Additionally, the state will reimburse farmers for the overtime premium as the threshold drops in an effort to offset any adverse financial effects of the threshold. However, the tax credit will only be for the extra cost of the overtime wage, not the hourly rate. According to the State Division of Budget, the overtime credit is expected to cost
$184 million from 2024-2027. By the time the 40-hour work week is fully implemented in 2032, the cost will increase to about $153 million annually.
New York follows in the footsteps of California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii, all of which have lowered the overtime threshold to 40 hours for agricultural workers. Advocates of the decrease in the overtime threshold believe the decision is a win for agricultural workers who have historically been excluded from federal overtime-pay provisions. Whereas critics believe the decision has the potential to negatively impact the viability and financial well-being of family farms in the state.
The New York State Department of Labor [is now going through] a rule-making process which will include a 60-day public comment period. We will continue to monitor the rule-making process and provide any additional updates as they become available.
Patrick V. Melfi is a member (partner) in the Syracuse office of Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC. He is a labor and employment law attorney and co-chair of the firm’s occupational safety and health law practice. Contact Melfi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Gianelle M. Duby is an associate in Bond’s Syracuse office. She assists clients in a wide range of labor and employment matters, including drafting employment-related contracts and policies, researching the latest developments in New York labor and employment law, and assisting in the preparation and resolution of pending litigation and arbitrations. Contact Duby at email@example.com. This article is drawn and edited from the law firm’s New York Labor and Employment Law Report.