78 years to right the California farmworker overtime regulations

“The fact is, they are not treated fairly under the law and that’s wrong. This is a 78-year-old wrong, and there is nothing better than fixing that.” Lorena Gonzalez is a Democratic Assemblywomen from San Diego, and she is responding to the bill Governor Jerry Brown signed September 12, 2016.

The “wrong” Lorena is referring to is the extended overtime threshold farmworkers must adhere to compared to the rest of the working state.

Currently in California, employees earn overtime after eight hours a day or 40 hours per week. Farmworkers were excluded from that regulation and instead accrue overtime after 10 hours a day or 60 hours per week.

After years of fighting, Lorena Gonzalez has finally seen her efforts come to fruition with the Governor’s signature.

Understandably, there are opponents to the new regulation. Tom Scott is the state executive director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “It’s the piling-on effect that is just killing business and industry in this state,” said Tom. “Whether it’s medical leave, sick leave, paid leave, minimum wage, overtime, all of the regulations that the small-business owner has to deal with to comply in California, it’s the piling-on effect that strangles businesses.”

To help businesses prepare, the eight-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers will gradually be implemented beginning in 2019.

In 2019 workers will earn overtime at 9½ hours a day or 55 hours per week. The threshold will decrease by a half hour each year until 2022.

Smaller farms will not begin the roll out until 2022 and will have a complete phase-in by 2025.

The bill does give the Governor authority to freeze the phase-in based on economics, but only until 2025 when the overtime rule will be fully implemented.