Fresno, California – Ag employers are already about to be hit with higher minimum wages and overtime pay in California, now Datatech has learned that lawsuits filed in Monterey and San Diego counties seek to pay workers
traveling on buses to and from work sites.
“This could end up being an economic tsunami for farmers.” John Segale – California Farmers for Fairness
The word on these lawsuits is spreading rapidly through the Ag industry by the group California Farmers for Fairness. Quoted in a recent Ag Alert article hosted by the California Farm Bureau Federation, John Segale says economic hardship is inevitable to farmers if these lawsuits are won, “We’ve got a chance now to get in front of it and fight it, that’s what we’re doing right now, through California Farmers for Fairness.”
Lawsuits of this nature are not new, and the topic has been considered in California. The Society for Human Resource Management says on its website under ‘travel time’, “Travel time is considered work time, including travel to a different work site on a temporary basis or travel when an organization does not allow an employee to use his or her own transportation. In California, travel time is considered compensable work hours when the employer requires its employees to meet at a designated place, use the employer’s transportation to and from the work site, and prohibits employees from using their own transportation.”
So it would seem, under these guidelines that the lawsuits will boil down to whether the mode of travel for farm workers in Monterey and San Diego counties where these lawsuits reside, is considered voluntary or mandatory by the Ag employer.
So the fight is just beginning on these lawsuits and Segale says to CFBF, “When you factor in minimum wage increases and new overtime requirements, mandatory travel pay is going to increase employers’ labor costs by as much as 68 percent per worker per day (by 2023), compared to costs today in 2018,” Segale said, citing a recent study by the Center for Small Business at Sacramento State. He says without mandated travel pay, employers’ labor costs are projected to rise 10 percent by 2020 and more than 32 percent by 2023, according to the study.
So time will tell whether the court will allow this.
Datatech serves Ag employers nationwide with Ag payroll software for farmers and farm labor contractors.