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Understanding Agricultural Workers’ Rights

The agricultural industry is one of the largest and farthest-reaching industries worldwide. In the United States, agricultural workers are protected by provisions outlined in several legislative acts, including the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If you are a farm or agricultural worker with questions regarding your rights under these laws, including your right to workers’ compensation for injuries if you are hurt on the job, reaching out to a workers’ compensation attorney in San Jose can provide the accurate and fast answers you need.

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) was enacted to specifically protect the rights of agricultural workers in the United States, including migrant and seasonal workers. This law includes provisions requiring employers to disclose employment terms in writing prior to hiring employees, as well as to provide posted signage relating worker rights under the AWPA. Prior to hiring farm labor contractors, employers must check that these contractors are registered and licensed with the Department of Labor. Any housing or transportation provided to farmworkers must also meet local and federal safety standards.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ensures that workers receive a guaranteed minimum wage for each hour of labor performed. Although the original FLSA established in 1938 did not include farmworkers within the framework of this protective legislation, changes enacted over time have added agricultural workers to this important federal act. Today, FLSA ensures that the majority of agricultural workers receive the guaranteed minimum wage based on the number of hours they work, even if they receive piece-rate pay rather than an hourly wage. However, while FLSA contains provisions for overtime pay for workers who clock more than 40 hours a week, this coverage still does not currently extend to farm and agriculture workers.

Agricultural Workers’ Rights in San Jose