The latest installment of minimum wage increases is set to take effect beginning on January 1, 2020, marking only one aspect of the wage changes coming for the year. For operations that have 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will now be $13 per hour. Smaller operations with 25 or fewer employees will see the minimum wage increase to $12 an hour.
“It’s always important for agricultural employers to remember that we continue to be on this stair-step transition both in terms of minimum wage as well as in overtime in agriculture,” said AgSafe President and CEO Amy Wolfe. “And then the subsequent effect that that has on our paid sick leave.”
The minimum wage increases also correspond with overtime requirements. Overtime pay rates will begin after nine hours in a day, or 50 hours in a week for operations with 26 or more employees. “You’re also looking at time-and-a-half automatically on the first eight hours of that seventh consecutive day of work and after eight hours on that seventh consecutive day of work you’re paying $26 an hour,” Wolfe noted.
Agricultural employers will also need to consider some of the changes made to labor exemptions. Irrigators will now fall under the 50-hour workweek standard, having previously been exempt. Changes to the workday standard being reduced to nine hours also impact how paid sick leave is accrued. The nine-hour workday now brings down the required amount of paid sick leave down to 27, as labor law requires three days of paid sick leave for what is considered a normal workday.
“It’s connecting all of these dots and the impact that these changes have across all aspects of wage-an-hour in our agricultural operations,” said Wolfe. “It’s a lot of information to remember, but it’s very important considering how politically charged this issue around overtime, as well as minimum wage, has been for agricultural employers.”