Farm Labor Requirements
There are a number of resources to support farmers and ranchers in hiring and managing labor and staff and complying with state labor codes. In most cases these codes and labor requirements are long standing regulations to ensure that the employer/employee relationship is beneficial to both parties. These are stipulated in Industrial Welfare Commission Orders for:
A useful resource and support service for complying with these is the Farm Employer’s Labor Service or FELS. Their support and service includes checklists, employee bulletin board materials and confidential farm workplace audits. A good place to start is their checklist of key employment requirements. Also available is direction for preparation and management of inspections from Department of Labor and other regulatory agencies.
Potential legal avenues for developing apprenticeship and farmer training programs include:
- California Employment Training Panel
- California Department of Industrial Relations Apprenticeship Programs
Washington State’s Farm Intern Bill
As has become apparent, unpaid interns and apprentices are not legal under the California Labor Codes. There are some options to put internships in place with some constraints. One of the most prominent of these is Washington State’s Farm Intern Bill sponsored by State Senator Kevin Rankin signed into law March 2010. This legislation establishes pilot internship programs for farms earning less than $250K gross annual sales in San Juan and Skagit counties. As a pilot, this program and the legislation that makes it legal is in effect from June 10, 2010 to December 31, 2011. It waives minimum wage compensation; however, liability insurance, health and safety, and child labor law requirements are still in effect. Participating farms will be able to sponsor three unpaid interns a year. Farmers working to host interns must receive approval from Washington State Department of Labor and Industries by completing the application form. In addition, the farmer and intern have to establish objectives for the intern through completion of the internship agreement.