Legal Landscape of Farm Employment Law

Legal Landscape of Farm Employment Law

Legal Landscape of Farm Employment Law Rachel Armstrong Farm Commons provides the proactive legal resources that sustainable farmers need to become the stable, resilient foundation of a community based food system. Introduction Who am I?

Why does Farm Commons exist? My message today Learn the rules so you can break them properly. Your turn: What does this mean to you? My message today Breaking rules without knowledge creates risk and limits our

impact on the world. When we break rules properly, we Pay attention to spirit of the law Manage risk exposure Advocate for changes to the law that respect shared vision Interns and Apprentices

Interns and apprentices are almost always employees and employment laws apply- minimum wage, workers compensation, taxes, etc. True Story: Intern sues farm employer Interns and Apprentices ALL employment laws must be followed for interns at a for-profit farm unless....

The internship meets the 6 criteria laid out by the federal Department of Labor OR The internship meets the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals primary beneficiary test AND the farmer is willing to accept some risk. Interns and Apprentices

This means we need to know laws on: Minimum wage Workers compensation Payroll tax withholding and contributions Unemployment insurance Hiring and firing regulations/discrimination Hiring paperwork Migrant worker laws, etc.

Lodging and meals as wages? Valuation rules Zoning OSHA, etc Interns and Apprentices Why??

Learning on the job is expected Limit unfair competition Upward mobility Interns and Apprentices We need conversation! What does this mean for our entire community?

What do we want to do? Interns and Apprentices Breaking a rule with purpose Meet intent of laws: Limit unfair competition Empower interns to be successful

Minimize risk to individuals Intern protected from $ risk of injury Farmer has $ for legal risk Organize to change laws Your turn: Do you see these issues in your community? Discuss with neighbor.

Volunteers Generally, anyone who does the work of a for-profit business is an employee, including volunteers. True Story: Winery closes down after receiving $100,000 fine for using volunteers Volunteers

To employ someone means to permit someone to work for you. The Duck Test Volunteers serve nonprofits and government, not for-profit businesses. There are rules on nonprofit/govt use of volunteers, also

Volunteers Why?? Prevent coercion Create employment opportunities Protect all workers Volunteers As a community, we should talk about

this. Breaking the rule properly: Reduce risk- dont be a duck. Have $ for fines if you dont Protect volunteers from injury Be mindful of how volunteerism can affect employees and employment opportunities.

Tax Opportunities Its not all gloom and doom! Lets talk about an opportunities we could be leveraging in farm employment law Tax Opportunities The commodity wage exception: No payroll tax owed on in-kind wages paid for farm labor.

Just need a little clarification from the IRS Moving Forward We need to know the law We need to talk about it Create feasible solutions to legal obligations Understand where the law should change Farm Commons is starting it.

You need to move us forward through action. Your Turn!

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