By Benjamin C. Klein
ALBANY, NY (WENY) – The New York State Department of Labor issued an order last week to gradually lower the farm overtime threshold by 20 hours per week. The state now has until 2032 to lower the current 60-hour threshold for overtime pay to 40 hours per week.
“I thank the Farm Laborers Wage Board and all New Yorkers who provided insight and input during this inclusive process,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, adding, “Based on the findings, I feel the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendations are the best path forward to ensure equity for farm workers and success for agricultural businesses.”
Reardon said the decision was made based upon findings gathered by the Farm Laborer Wage Board that involved 14 public meetings over a two-year process. The Farm Laborer Wage Board also recommended that the reduction take place gradually by decreasing the overtime threshold four hours every other year beginning in 2024 until reaching 40 hours.
State Senator Tom O’Mara, who has been a vocal critic of decreasing the overtime threshold, has previously said the reduction will hurt small farms throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.
To help offset the oncoming cost increases for farmers, Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature increased the Investment Tax Credit from 4 percent to 20 percent for farm businesses, the Farm Workforce Retention Tax Credit was increased to $1,200 per employee and a new refundable overtime tax credit was established for overtime hours paid by farm employers.
“I come from a farm community myself, so I know how important the agricultural sector is to the New York State economy,” Reardon said in a prepared statement.