Agricultural Guest Worker Pay Raises in 2022 and the Change to Farmworker Hours

In November of 2020, the Trump administration formally froze wages for guest farmworkers (those here on an H-2A visa) in an effort to assist farmers whose operations were affected by the global pandemic and accompanying shut down.  The rule was to take effect on December 21, 2020.  This rule would have frozen wages at 2019 rates.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are over 30,000 certified H-2A positions in California.

In response, farmworker advocates sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Labor, seeking an injunction to stop the ruling from taking effect.  The case was set for a hearing on December 14, 2020.  The Eastern District of California heard the case and granted the injunction on December 23, 2020.  The case is United Farm Workers, et. al., v. The United States Department of Labor, et. al. No. 1:20-cv-01690-DAT-JLT (2020).

So why are we discussing a 2020 case at the end of 2021?  Because due to this ruling, wages for H-2A farmworkers will increase again in 2022 – to $17.51 per hour.  All producers using H-2A labor should be prepared for this increase.

In addition to the increase in wages for H-2A farmworkers, California Wage Order 14 “Agricultural Occupations” will again decrease the number of hours an agricultural employee can work before they earn overtime.  

Starting January 1, 2022, for employers with more than 25 employees, the work week will be eight (8) hours per day or work in excess of forty (40) hours per week.  After that, the employer is required to pay overtime at the rate of one and one-half (1½) times the employee’s regular rate of pay.  Double time is required for all hours worked over twelve (12) hours in any one workday.

If an employer has 25 or fewer employees, the daily rate is nine and one-half (9½) hours per workday or fifty-five (55) hours per workweek.  Any work in excess of those times also requires overtime.  After twelve (12) hours double time is still required. 

Dias Law Firm, Inc. has experienced labor law attorneys who aggressively litigate for their clients – whether that client is a plaintiff or a defendant.  In addition to litigation, Dias Law Firm, Inc. provides services for employers to ensure that their employee handbooks reflect the ever-changing California labor laws.  We look forward to serving you.

By: Paula C. Clark, Esq.

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Photo 3139764 / Farmworker © Derek Main | Dreamstime.com