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California Wage Law for Farm Workers, Field Workers & Agricultural Workers

California Wage Law for Farm Workers, Field Workers & Agricultural Workers - Farm worker piece rate laws, meal breaks, rest breaks and recovery periods

California Farm Worker Labor Laws: California Wage Order 14 - Agricultural protects you 

California Wage Order 14-2001 - Agricultural - protects California farm workers. In this article I explain California Wage law for farm workers, field workers and agricultural workers. You'll see this is the most comprehensive article on California farm worker wage laws. 

Why should Wage Order 14 be important for you and your family? Because when the company violates Wage Order 14 and/or the California Labor Code, you and your family are owed A LOT of money in unpaid wages. As our California farm worker wage lawyers explain in this article, almost every farming company and farm labor contractor in California violate these powerful California farm worker Labor Laws and California farm worker wage laws. 

A quick example of how California farm workers are owed thousands of dollars in

unpaid wages and penalties 

If you look at the photo above, these are pickers that are paid by piece rate. Meaning, they are paid according to how much they pick. They aren't paid for the time when they are walking back and forth to their cars or the company bus. 

Under California this is called non-productive time under California Labor Code Section 226.2.  The workers must be paid for this non-productive time. This includes walking back and forth in the fields. You make this walk in and out of the fields when you start your shifts, going to the rest rooms (you can see the porta potty restrooms in the back of the photo - if you look closely), going to lunch, coming back from lunch and when you end your shifts. All of this nonproductive walking time must be paid for by the company.

In the recent Troester California Supreme Court case the worker spent 2 minutes a day - part of it was walking  - just like these farm workers do (and just like you do also). The California Supreme Court ruled that this time walking, must be paid. Even if you aren't actually "working" - you must be paid for this time, because you are under the control of the company. 

In this article, I explain how just 2 minutes a day of non-productive time, over a short 6 weeks time, can add up to you being owed thousands and thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and penalties.

By the way, I know a lot about California Labor Code Section 226.2. I was the only class action lawyer for workers that was asked to testify at the California State Senate Hearings on Section 226.2. This part about being paid for non-productive time is only one part of this piece rate law that is so POWERFUL for California farm workers like you!!

California Wage Law for farm workers, field workers and agricultural workers 

I have represented thousands of California agricultural workers. I have won wage class action cases against big companies who have products that you see everyday in grocery store across California.

Based on what I see, most California farms, and California farm labor contractors violate California wage and hour laws. These California companies don’t follow California’s strict wage laws for farm workers, field workers & agricultural workers.

These farm companies take advantage of low skilled workers and immigrant workers. The companies don’t pay the workers the wages they are owed.  The California Labor Code, California Wage Orders and California regulations protect  farm workers, field workers & agricultural workers.  California farm workers, field workers, orchard workers, vineyard workers and agricultural workers are covered by California Wage Order 14-2001.
 
In this article, our farm workers unpaid wages class action lawsuit lawyers explain California law for farm workers, field workers, orchard workers, vineyard workers and agricultural workers. We explain California Labor laws for farm workers and California wage laws for farm workers. We will refer to all of these workers collectively as farm workers.
 
In this article I cover the following topics and more
 
Why does almost every California farm company and labor contractor breaks California wage laws?
 
Why you shouldn't think that "it's not worth it for me to bring a California wage claim" (California law protects farm workers - you can get a LOT of money in unpaid wages!!!)
 
There are many ways that farm workers in California are cheated out of wages (and are owed a lot of money in wages and penalties)

California Wage Order 14 - Agricultural workers

Why is Bill Turley asked to testify concerning wage law legislation at the California State Senate and the California Assembly?
 
Questions or if you need help right now?
 
Am I supposed to be paid the minimum wage or the agreed upon wage?
 
What is the minimum wage for California farm workers and field workers?
 
What are the overtime laws for California farm workers and field workers?
 
Under California farm worker law, am I supposed to be paid for all the time that I work?
 
Under California farm worker law, am I supposed to be paid for all time that I am under the control of the employer?
 
Can the farm company or farm labor contractor make me wait to clock in?
 
Is my time spent while I am waiting, time I am supposed to be paid for?
 
Can you give some examples of time that I am supposed to be paid for?
 
Should I be getting paid for travel time? 
 
Any travel time that the company makes you take in a company vehicle is always time you must be paid for
 
What are the piece rate pay laws for farm workers?
 
The law for piece rate farm workers
 
Even 2 minutes per shift in unpaid time adds up to thousands of dollars (this is HUGE, don’t miss this)
 
Am I supposed to be paid for travel time?
 
What is wrong with this photograph of California farm workers picking strawberries? 
 
Every farm worker in California that is paid by piece rate has some nonproductive time every day - that are supposed to be getting paid for (but probably aren't getting paid for). I can almost guarantee it.
 
How can not getting paid for 2 minutes of time each day add up to thousands of dollars for farm workers?

Case study: mandarin pickers are required to travel between fields in same day

Is the farm company’s failure to provide me necessary tools illegal under California wage law?
 
The requirement that you be reimbursed for business expenses cannot be waived by the you
 
What are the California meal break laws for farm workers?
 
You get an hour’s pay for every meal break that isn’t provided to you
 
What are the California rest break laws for farm workers? 

You get an hour’s pay for every missed rest break

In order for a farm worker to get a legal rest break under California law, you must be provided access to shade
 
What is California law for recovery periods for farm workers?
 
Your employer must provide you access to shade at all times
 
5 Minute Cool Down Period
 
If you don’t get a recovery period - then you are entitled to an hour’s pay

Toilet, Sanitation, Drinking Water and Hand Washing Rights for California Farm Workers

What are the toilet, sanitation, drinking water and hand washing rights for California farm workers?
 
You are entitled to PAGA penalties if the farm company doesn’t provide you with toilets, hand-washing facilities, sanitation facilities and/or drinking wager pursuant to these standards
 
When am I supposed to paid if I'm a California farm worker?
 
What if I'm paid late - what can I do if I'm a California farm worker? 

Your employer must record all of the time that you work

 

Why does almost every California farm company and labor contractor breaks California wage laws?

This is for three main reasons. First, there is huge competition between the farms and the labor contractors. They are always trying to outbid each other on costs and prices. Thus, the way they make more money is to cheat workers out of their wages.

Second, with the rise in minimum wage for farm workers, California farm companies often have to compete with fruits and produce from other States. They are trying to cut labor costs in way they can. That usually means not paying you the wages that you are owed under the law.

Third, because they think that they can not pay you your wage. Most California farm workers are newly immigrated or immigrants. Most don't speak English or they are not fluent in English. The companies think that they can get away with it. 

SO they cheat people like you and your family out of your hard earned wages every day.  Day in and day out. These are rich companies and rich farm labor contractors.

They don't care that they are getting rich by stealing YOUR wages.  My goal is to help you and your family get you the wages you are entitled to under California law. 

Why you shouldn't think that, "It's not worth it for me to bring a California wage claim".
(California law protects farm workers - you can get a LOT of money in unpaid wages!!!)

California wage laws are very powerful. 
 
You will see that even when you are not paid for only 2 minutes a day, it will usually add up to you being owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and penalties under California’s strict wage laws. The reason why California has these penalties for unpaid wages is because the law understands how hard it is for you if you're not paid the wages you are owed. So, the law protects you by making the company pay you thousands of dollars if you aren't paid the wages you are owed under the law. 
 
So don’t think that “it’s not worth it” for you to bring a California wage claim.
 
There are many ways that farm workers in California are cheated out of wages (and are owed a lot of money in wages and penalties)

There are many ways that farm workers in California are cheated out of their hard earned wages.

Here, I explain how the companies cheat you out of your wages. These range from not being paid for all the time you work or are under the control of the company (I explain these in depth in this article and you may be surprised by how much money you're owed for this), piece rate wage violations, not getting legal meal breaks, rest breaks, recovery periods, not getting paid proper overtime, minimum wage, having to buy your own tools, gloves, safety glasses (this is illegal), pay stub violations, getting paid late, waiting time penalties and much, much more. 

We're talking about your money - wages owed to you and your family. So - pull up a chair. This is an eye-opening article. This is - by far- the most comprehensive article on wage law for California farm workers. 

 
 
California Wage Order 14 - Agricultural workers
 
California has separate Wage Orders for different industries. The Wage Order for the agricultural industry (farms and growing fields) is California Wage Order 14. California Wage Order 14-2001.
         
California Wage Order 14 provides the wages, hours and working conditions for farm workers, field workers & agricultural workers in California.
 

Why is Bill Turley asked to testify concerning wage law legislation at the California State Senate and the California Assembly?

Piece rate laws for farm workers - Bill Turley testified at the California State Senate on the piece rate statute 226.2

Because Bill is known as a No B.S. straight-shooter lawyer

Believe it or not, Bill is known for being a no B.S. straight-up lawyer. Besides being known as one of the leading experts on this area of the law in California, one of the reasons why Bill is asked to testify at legislature hearings is because he is known for being straight-forward and blunt. He is known for being no B.S., with no lawyer-talk, no double-talk.
 
Bill Turley testified before the California piece rate law - 226.2 that provides payment for all time worked - including non-productive time and being paid for rest breaks - for California farm workers. 
 
 

Questions or if you need help right now?

Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.


Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text.


Or leave us a message on this webpage.


Am I supposed to be paid the minimum wage or the agreed upon wage?

Under California law, you must be paid the California minimum wage or the agreed upon wage.
 
Under California law you must be paid for all the time that you work. Employers are required to pay you at least the minimum wage for all hours you work. And employers must pay you at the contract rate. Meaning, what they agreed to pay you. These are called “contract wages” or “agreed upon wages.” California Labor Code Section 1194; California Wage Order 14 Section 4(A).
 
Under California law, if you are not paid at least minimum wage, you are allowed to recover attorney fees, interest and costs of bring the lawsuit to recover your unpaid minimum wages. California Labor Code Section 1194.
This includes time riding on company transportation, getting ready to work, cleaning up, organizing materials, organizing equipment, meetings, training,  etc.


What is the minimum wage for California farm workers and field workers?

California has two minimum wages for farm workers/ field workers depending on the size of the company/ employer. And the minimum wage goes up each year.
Employers with more than 26 employees:
 
 (a) $10.50 per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2017;
 (b) $11.00 per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2018; 
 (c) $12.00 per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2019; and 
 (d) $13.00 per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2020. 
 
Employers with less than 26 employees:
 
(a) Ten dollars ($10.00) per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017; 
(b) Ten dollars and fifty cents ($10.50) per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2018;
(c) Eleven dollars ($11.00) per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2019; and
(d) Twelve dollars ($12.00) per hour for all hours worked, effective January 1, 2020.
 

What are the overtime laws for California farm workers and field workers?

Most workers in California get overtime premium pay after they work 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week. This still isn’t the case for California farm workers and field workers. 
 
However, the new overtime laws are changing this.
 
Here are California’s new overtime pay laws:
 
California overtime laws for farm workers
 
The first column shows the daily overtime laws for farm workers with employers that have over 26 employees. The second column shows the weekly overtime laws for farm workers with employers that have over 26 employees. 
 
For example, from January 1, 2020,  you must be paid at the overtime rate of  $12 for all hours you work over 9 hours in a day or 50 hours in a week. 

 

Questions or if you need help right now?

Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.
 
Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text.
 
Or leave us a message on this webpage.


Under California farm worker law, am I supposed to be paid for all the time that I work?

Yes - You must be paid for all of the time that you work.
 
Whether you’re paid by the hour, the day, salary, commission and/or piece rates as a farm worker or agricultural worker - you must be paid for all of the time that you work. California Wage Order 14 Section 4(B). 
 
You must be paid for waiting, pre-shift work, post-shift work, travel time, etc.
 
In California, you must be compensated for each hour that you work at least at the legal minimum wage, which cannot be arrived at by averaging.  Bluford v. Safeway Inc., 216 Cal. App. 4th 864, 872 (2013);  Armenta v. Osmose, Inc., 135 Cal. App. 4th 314, 324 (2006).
 
California Wage Order 14 defines "hours worked" as "the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so." 8 Cal. Code Regs. § 11140(2)(G); California Wage Order 14(2)(G).
 
We have seen cases were farm workers and field workers routinely worked 15 - 30 minutes before a shift, 10-30 minutes after their shifts or spent 30 minutes to 2 hours waiting for trees to dry, etc. 
 
All of these are uncompensated work time which is illegal in California. You must be paid for all time that you work or all time that you are under the control of the company.
 

Under California farm worker law, am I supposed to be paid for all time that I am under the control of the employer?

Yes. You don’t have to actually be working in order for your employer to have to pay you.  For example, if you are made to ride in the company bus or van, going to the job site or between job sites, then you must be paid. If you are waiting for your job to be assigned, you must be paid.
 
You must be paid for this time, even if you are playing with your phone or taking a nap. It doesn’t matter.
 

Can the farm company or farm labor contractor make me wait to clock in?

If you are told that you are to arrive at work at a certain time - for instance 6 am and you arrive at the job site at 6 am - then you must begin to get paid at 6 am. It is illegal if your employer makes you wait around before you are allowed to clock in.
 

Is my time spent while I am waiting, time I am supposed to be paid for?

Yes. If have reported to work at the correct time, then you must be paid while you are waiting. The same is true after you shift has started. The company has to pay you for the time that you wait.
 
However, if your shift starts at 5 am, for instance, and you arrive at 4:45 am. If you are not performing any work duties and the company in no way controls what you do - then this is not time that you must be paid for under California law. Your paid time starts at 5 am. 
 

Can you give some examples of time that I am supposed to be paid for?

Your workday will usually begin when you arrive at the first field for the day. Unless you are told to meet at one location first. Wherever you are told to meet at the beginning of your shift is where your pay must start. This is true even if you then drive your own vehicle, a ride in a co-workers vehicle, or a company vehicle to the field, vineyard or orchard where you are working that day.
 

Should I be getting paid for travel time? Any travel time that the company makes you take in a company vehicle is always time you must be paid for

If your crew must stop on the way to the field and load work-related equipment or if you must report at a certain time to receive your assignment, your work time begins when you report or load the equipment.
 
When you have worked in one field and must move to another field, your work time includes the time spent traveling from one field to another even if you take a lunch break of 30 minutes or more during that trip. By the way, this isn’t a “lunch break” under California law.  If the company is counting this travel time as your meal break/ lunch break under California law, you are entitled to get paid for the time and receive an hour’s pay, because you were not provided a legal meal break.
 
If equipment breaks down and you have to wait to do your work, your work time always includes the time you have to wait.
 
Your workday usually ends when you finish working.  The ride from your last work back to the camp or the place where you had to meet to start the day is paid time if you either had to meet there or the company makes you ride in their vehicle.
 
There are other rules for piece rate workers. I cover this in the next sections.
 

What are the piece rate pay laws for farm workers?

Piece rate farm workers get paid in a manner other than hourly. For instance, farm piece rate pay systems may pay you by the bushel, or by weight of the fruit or vegetables that you pick. Or the piece rate may be measured by a row of plants, or how many rows you tie, etc.  Or, for example a certain amount of money per raisin tray for grapes.
 
California piece rate law is based upon California Labor Code Section 226.2.  
I know California Labor Code Section 226.2 very well, because I am the only workers’ lawyer that was asked to testify before the California State Senate on 226.2. 

 

What are some examples of piece rate compensation for farm workers?

 

The law for piece rate farm workers

1. You must he paid at least the minimum wage for each hour you work.
 
2. You must be paid at least the overtime rate for all overtime hours you work. 
 
3.  You must be paid for all non-productive time. 
 
 
4.  Your non-productive time must be on your pay stub - with the correct hourly rate of pay.
 
5. You must be paid for taking rest breaks. 
 
6. Your rest break time must be on your pay stub - with the correct hourly rate.
 
7. You must be paid an hour's pay for every missed rest break. 
 
“Nonproductive time” means time under the employer’s control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis.  California Labor Code Section 226.2(a)(1). 
 
Stated in not quite so legal terms, if you are paid a piece rate to pick grape, for instance. You must be paid for the time that it takes you to walk through the fields, the time it takes to clean up any tools, the time you are talking to the boss, the time that you are in meetings.  This is all called non-productive time.
 
Under California law, if you aren't paid for even as little as 2 minutes of non-productive time each day, then this can add up to you being owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages,  penalties and PAGA penalties. 
 
Here is a great article that explains California piece rate laws for farm workers, field workers and agricultural workers. I also provide examples of piece rate pay for farm workers. 

Even 2 minutes per shift in unpaid time adds up to thousands of dollars (this is HUGE, don’t miss this)

In the recent Troester California Supreme Court case, a worker was unpaid for about two (2) minutes per shift. The California Supreme Court held that the company must pay for that 2 minutes per shift. The wages and penalties owed to the worker ended up being thousands of dollars. All based upon about 2 minutes a shift. Troester v. Starbucks Corp., 5 Cal. 5th 829, 845 (2018). I talk about the Troester case more later in this article.
 

Am I supposed to be paid for travel time?

Yes, you must be paid for travel time. Under California law, you must be paid for travel time under the following circumstances:

First, if the company or farm labor contractor tells you that you have to ride the bus, van , shuttle or vehicle in order to go to the work site.
 
Under California law, compensable time is "the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work,  whether or not required to do so." Morillion v. Royal Packaging Co., 22 Cal. 4th 575, 578 (2000) (quoting Wage Order 4 Section 2(G)).
 
In the Morillion case, the farm company required the field workers to meet at parking lots and then ride the company bus to the fields where they worked. The company said they shouldn't have to pay the field workers for riding the company bus because the workers were not working while on the bus and the workers could sleep, read or eat while riding on the bus. The California Supreme Court held that the workers don't have to be actually working in order to be subject to the control of the company.  As long as the company controls what you are doing, then you have to be paid - even if you can sleep, eat or read. Morillion v. Royal Packaging Co., 22 Cal. 4th 575, 578 (2000)
 
Second, if you are traveling between work sites in the same work day and/or shift, then you have to be paid for that time. 
 

What is wrong with this photograph of California farm workers picking strawberries? 

 
For example, look at this photograph. Look carefully. 
 
California wage law for farm workers - piece rate farm workers are owed A LOT of wages!
 
 
Do you see all of the cars parked on the street behind the pickers?  Look closely. A few hundred yards away there is a street where cars are parked.
 
The walk from the street to where you are picking or from where you are picking to the street, to your car is
non-productive time that MUST be paid by the company.
 

Every farm worker in California that is paid by piece rate has some nonproductive time every day - that are supposed to be getting paid for (but probably aren't getting paid for).

I can almost guarantee it.

 

How can not getting paid for 2 minutes of time each day add up to thousands of dollars for farm workers?

Suppose you work for 6 weeks for a company as a picker. You have 2 minutes of unpaid time each day.  Just the time walking in and out of the fields or orchards each day to start your shift, going to the bathroom and back and at the end of the shift - is going to be at least 2 minutes. With most farms - the fields are BIG. 
 
You work 6 days a week and you are paid every week. You earn on average $100 a day. Here is how much money you are owed:
 
 36 shifts x 2 minutes = 72 minutes
 
 $10.50 x 72 minutes = $12.60
 
You are owed $50 for the first pay stub violation and $100 for the next 5 pay period violations, for a total of $550 for pay stub violations.
 
You are owed 30 days waiting time penalties.
 
 $100 x 30 days = $3,000  
 
You have the following PAGA violations:
 
 Labor Code Sections violations:

226 (pay stubs); 204b (not paying wages owed every pay period; 201 or 202 (not paying all wages at time of termination; 203 (waiting time penalties; 226.2 (piece rate);  1185, 1194, 1194.2, 1197, and 1197.1 (unpaid minimum wages); 510, 1194, and 1198 (unpaid overtime wages); 204, 205.5, 206 (claims for the failure to timely or otherwise pay wages during employment).
 
 Wage Order 14 violations
 
3(A) (overtime); 4(A) minimum wages, 7(A) (records, 7(C) pay stub.
 
This is 19 separate PAGA violations.
 
You are entitled to $25 per pay period for the initial violations and $50 per pay period for subsequent violations.  
 
 19 x $25 = $475
 
 19 x $50 x 5 pay periods = $4,750 
 
   $    475
 +$ 4,750
   $ 5,225 in potential PAGA penalties

Total wages and penalties you may be owed
 
 $     12.60   unpaid wages
 $   550.00   pay stub violations
 $ 3,000.00  waiting time penalties
 $ 5,225.00  potential PAGA penalties
 $ 8,787.60  Total wages and penalties   
 
All of this for not getting paid for $2 each day.  Suppose you only got less than half of this. Say, $4,000. What could you do with $4,000? Think about it. This is why it is usually worth it to bring a wage claim in California. Because California has powerful wage laws.
 

Case study: mandarin pickers are required to travel between fields in same day

For example, in one case, the field workers have to work two or more fields in the same day but are not compensated for their time they spend traveling between the fields.
 
Under California law, compulsory travel time is generally compensable as "hours worked" for agricultural employees in California. See Morillion v. Royal Packing Co., 22 Cal. 4th 575, 595, 94 Cal. Rptr. 2d 3, 995 P.2d 139 (2000). Meaning, you must be paid for this travel time. 
 
In this case, the workers are required to travel between 30 minutes and one hour between fields that they work in during the mandarin harvest season. The field workers are not compensated for this travel time.
 
The workers are entitled to wages for this travel time even though they have to drive their own vehicles between the fields.
 
In addition, the workers are entitled to mileage reimbursement and/or vehicle expense for this driving of their own vehicles between the fields. California Labor Code Section 2802.
 
This all adds up to being owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages, expenses and penalties. 
 

Is the farm company’s failure to provide me necessary tools illegal under California wage law?

Many farm workers have to provide their own tools, including work gloves, clippers, pruning shears, etc. This is illegal under California law.
 
Under California law, "[a]n employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties." Cal. Labor Code § 2802(a). Moreover, "[w]hen tools or equipment . . . are necessary to the performance of a job, such tools and equipment shall be provided and maintained by the employer," absent certain circumstances where the employee earns more than twice the minimum wage. 8 Cal. Code Regs. § 11140(9)(B); Wage Order 14 Section (9)(B). 
 
Meaning, that if the employer requires you to provide your own tools, you have to be paid twice the minimum wage. California Wage Order 14 Section 9(B).
 

The requirement that you be reimbursed for business expenses cannot be waived by the you

California law expressly prohibits waiver of the rights afforded under California Labor Code Section 2802. California Labor Code Section 2804.
 
Section 2804  provides:
 
“Any contract or agreement, express or implied, made by any employee to waive the benefits of this article or any part thereof, is null and void, and this article shall not deprive any employee or his personal representative of any right or remedy to which he is entitled under the laws of this State.”
Gattuso v. Harte-Hanks Shoppers, Inc., 42 Cal. 4th 554, 561 (2007).
 
What this means is that you’re entitled to this reimbursement money for your tools,  gloves, safety goggles, etc. and the company can’t say that you “waived” getting reimbursed for these business expenses.
Aldapa v. Fowler Packing Co., 323 F.R.D. 316, 351, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11675, *83, 99 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 871.
 
Here are some of the farm equipment that we’ve seen farm workers were required to use for their job that they weren’t legally reimbursed for:
 
leather gloves, cloth gloves, files, shears, picking shears, heavy duty shears, harvesting scissors, sheaths, oil, replacement parts, ladders, baskets, safety glasses, etc.
 
The employees are forced to purchase these tools and equipment and are not reimbursed for their business expenses. This is illegal under California law. 

What are the California meal break laws for farm workers?

Under California law, you are entitled to a duty free, uninterrupted 30 minute meal period. You you get one meal period at the fifth hour and a second meal period at the tenth hour.  Your employer must relinquish all control over you during the meal period. And you have to be free to leave the farm, if you want. 
 

You get an hour’s pay for every meal break that isn’t provided to you

Under California law, you’re entitled to an hour’s pay for every meal period that isn’t provided to you. California Labor Code Section 226.7. This is from the Brinker Supreme Court case. I represented the workers in the Brinker case. 
 
Most companies give you 30 minutes break each day.  If part of your 30 minutes is walking across the field to your car, then you didn’t get a legal meal break under California law.
 
For more information about lunch break law for farm workers, check out this article. 
 
https://www.turleylawfirm.com/library/san-diego-wage-and-hour-lawyer-straight-talk-what-if-my-employer-won-t-let-me-take-my-meal-brea.cfm
 

What are the California rest break laws for farm workers? 

Under California law, you are entitled to a duty free rest break. If you work 3.5 hours you get your first rest break. If you work 6 hours, you get a second rest break. If you work 10 hours you get a third rest break and you get a fourth rest break if you work 12 hours. 


You get an hour’s pay for every missed rest break

Suppose that you work 10 hours a day and the company doesn’t pay you for 2 minutes a day.  This means that you worked 10 hours and 2 minutes. Under California law, you are entitled to 3 paid rest breaks when you work 10 hours. California Wage Order 14 Section 12.
 
Most companies only give you 2 rest breaks.
 
Thus, you are owed one hour’s pay each day for not getting the third rest break. California Labor Code Section 226.7(c).
 

In order for a farm worker to get a legal rest break under California law, you must be provided access to shade

The rest break must be  “in accordance with a state law, including, but not limited to, an applicable statute or applicable regulation, standard, or order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health...” California Labor Code Section 226.7(c).
 
In addition, California law requires farm workers to have access to shade at all times. California Code of regulations Title 8 Section 3395. This includes rest breaks. 3395(d)(3). Thus, if you don’t have access to shade during your rest break, this is a violation of California rest break laws.
 
Part of your 10 minute break can’t be spent walking to and from the shade. Thus, if you are given a 10 minute break, then it must be 10 minutes at the shade. Otherwise, you are owed an hour’s pay for not getting a legal rest break under California law. California Labor Code Section 226.7.
 
Here is a great article on California rest break law for farm workers.

 

What is California law for recovery periods for farm workers?

Your employer must provide you access to shade at all times

Under California law, if you work outside, your employer must provide you access to shade at all times. Tit. 8, Cal. Code Regs. § 3395(d)(3).


5 Minute Cool Down Period

Under California law, if you work outside you are entitled to a cool down rest in the shade whenever you feel the need to protect yourself from overheating.  You are entitled to no less than 5 minutes in addition to the time needed to access the shade.

When you work in heat of 95 degrees or above, your employer must ensure you take a net cool-down rest period every two hours.

Tit. 8, Cal. Code Regs. § 3395(e) states, in part:

When temperatures reach 95 degrees or above, the employer shall ensure that the employee takes a minimum ten minute net preventative cool-down rest period every two hours.
 
What this means is that your employer must make sure that you take a cool-down rest period every two hours when you work in heat of 95 degrees.

Focus on the phrase “shall ensure.”  That means you must take a rest every two hours of a net 10 minutes.

You are entitled to a cool-down rest period every two hours, as long as the temperature is over 95 degrees



If you don’t get a recovery period - then you are entitled to an hour’s pay

If you don’t get a recovery period or a rest period - in the shade at any time (no matter what the temperature) - or a meal period in the shade when it’s over 80 degrees; then you are entitled to an hour’s pay.

If you want more information on California recovery periods, be sure to check out this article.
 
 

Toilet, Sanitation, Drinking Water and Hand Washing Rights for California Farm Workers

What are the toilet, sanitation, drinking water and hand washing rights for California farm workers?

Under California law, the farm company and/or farm labor contractor must provide farm workers with the following in every field, orchard and/or farm that you work at:

1.  Toilets.
 
The toilet must be within 5 minute walk of where you work. If this isn’t feasible the toilet  must be at the point closest to where there is vehicle access. California Title 8 Section 3457(c)(2)(A).

There must be separate toilets for men and women when there are over 5 employees at the work site. There must be one toilet for every 20 employees of each sex.
In other words, if there are 20 women and 40 men, there must be one women’s toilet and 2 men’s toilets.

Toilet paper must be provided.

2. Hand-washing facilities.
 
There are the same requirements for hand-washing facilities as there are for toilets. The hand-washing facility muse be near the toilet.

3.  Drinking water.
 
The employer must provide you with fresh, pure, cool drinking water at all times. Drinking water must be accessible to you at all times.

4.  Access and reasonable opportunity.
 
The farm company / farm labor contractor must allow you access to the toilet, sanitation facilities and/or water at all times. You must be given a “reasonable opportunity” to use these.

The farm company / farm labor contractor can’t make you use the the toilet or get drinking water only during your rest breaks and meal breaks. In other words, you get to use the toilet and drink water at any time. You can not be forced to use the toilet and drinking water only during your breaks. 
 
If the employer requires you to only use the toilet or drink water during your breaks, this is illegal.  You are owed PAGA penalties. 


You are entitled to PAGA penalties if the farm company doesn’t provide you with toilets, hand-washing facilities, sanitation facilities and/or drinking wager pursuant to these standards

Under California PAGA laws, you are entitled to $25 for the first pay period and $50 for all subsequent pay periods where these requirements are not met. This is for each employee (called aggrieved employees) under the PAGA OSHA laws.

I know a lot about the PAGA laws, because I testified before the California State Assembly the last time the PAGA laws were changed in California. I helped write the new PAGA laws.

When am I supposed to paid if I'm a California farm worker?

California farm workers have different laws for when they are supposed to be paid than other workers in California. Here is an article that explains when you are supposed to be paid if you're a farm worker in California. 
 

What if I'm paid late - what can I do if I'm a California farm worker? 

Here in this article I explain what you can do if you're paid late, not paid and/or you're not paid your final wages. 
 
 

Your employer must record all of the time that you work

We have seen farm companies that don’t record the time that employees work. Meaning, the employees don’t punch a time clock or write down each day when they start work or record their work time with a phone or tablet.
 
This is illegal under California law. If the company doesn't make and keep these records it is a PAGA wage violation and you may be able to receive PAGA penalties. 
 
California Wage Order 5 states:

 7. Records
 (A) Every employer shall keep accurate information with respect to each employee including the following:
 (3) Time records showing when the employee begins and ends each work period. Meal periods, split shift intervals and total daily hours worked shall also be recorded. Meal periods during which operations cease and authorized rest periods need not be recorded.
 California Wage Order 5(A)(3)
 
If the company doesn't record all of your time correctly, then you can recover PAGA penalties. Also, if the company doesn't record you meal periods properly, then you are probably owed an hour's pay for not getting a meal period. The law assumes that you didn't get a meal period if you meal period times are not recorded properly.

 

Questions or if you need help right now?

Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.
 
Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text.
 
Or leave us a message on this webpage.
  
 

 
This article isn't legal advice
 
These discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. These testimonials, endorsements, photos and/or discussions do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation. Every case is different. There are any number of reasons why class actions are not certified, not won and/or PAGA actions are not successful.
 
Just because we have gotten great results in so many other unpaid wage cases, doesn't guarantee in particular result in other cases. Including, your wage case. Every case is different. 
William Turley
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