New York officials update overtime threshold for farm workers

New York officials gave final approval Wednesday for a measure that will lower the hourly threshold for when farm workers qualify for overtime pay.

Under the adopted measure, the overtime pay threshold will gradually be reduced to 40 hours by 2032. Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, farm workers will be eligible for overtime pay after 56 hours worked per week.

Right now, farm workers in the state qualify for overtime pay after working more than 60 hours per week.

The state’s Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, who approved of a recommendation to reduce the overtime threshold in September, said it would ‘ensure equity for farm workers, who are the very backbone of our agriculture sector.’ The gradual transition should give farmers time to make appropriate adjustments, she said.

The overtime rule has been applauded by labor movement advocates who say farm workers deserve the same benefits long enjoyed by other workers. But many farm owners say the new measure will drive up labor costs and threatens family farms in the state.

‘Our family farmers are already struggling with skyrocketing inflation, high unemployment insurance taxes, and a severe worker shortage. This is one more burdensome mandate passed on by unelected bureaucrats that will cause more harm,’ state Senate GOP Leader Rob Ortt said in a statement.

Gov. Kathy Hochul in her budget plan proposes expanding tax credits for farmers to ensure the new standards are implemented smoothly.

Farm owners will be able to tap into a tax credit of $1,200 per employee. A refundable overtime tax credit was also established to help cover the costs of farm employers who will have to pay overtime hourly wages.

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