Farmworkers in New York will eventually qualify for overtime pay after working 40 hours in a week under a new rule announced Friday by state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon.
The move was not unexpected and came after a wage board at the Department of Labor had recommended the expanded overtime for farmworkers.
“I come from a farm community myself, so I know how important the agricultural sector is to the New York State economy," Reardon said. "Based on the findings, I feel the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendations are the best path forward to ensure equity for farm workers and success for agricultural businesses.”
Advocates for farmworkers have pushed for the change, calling it a necessary way of including agriculture workers in a nearly century-old labor law. But farmers have been angered by the effort to lower the overtime threshold, calling it out of touch with the ways of a working farm and warning it could have dire financial consequences for them.
The lower overtime threshold will be subsidized by a tax credit from New York state and will be phased in over the next decade. The change will take full effect by 2032.
Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this week said there could be potential benefits to expanding overtime for farmworkers by helping New York attract more workers for a labor-intensive industry.