On July 17, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Farm Workers Bill into law and established the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which took effect on January 1, 2020. Under this law, there are important labor requirements for farm employers, owners and operators. The law also includes some important changes regarding coverage requirements for workers’ compensation, disability benefits, and Paid Family Leave.
Disability Benefits and Paid Family Leave:
- Coverage is mandatory: Farm employers, owners and operators are required to provide disability benefits and NY Paid Family Leave coverage to eligible farm laborers.
- Coverage is mandatory: All employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees regardless of annual payroll. Previously farm employers with less than $1,200 in annual payroll were exempt.
- Posters must be displayed in English and Spanish: Employers are required to post the mandatory workers’ compensation notice of compliance poster in both English and Spanish. Employers get these posters from their insurance carrier, or, if self-insured, from the Workers’ Compensation Board by emailing Certificates@wcb.ny.gov.
- New notice requirements for farm contractors: Employers should be aware, and make sure their farm contractors are aware, that upon receiving notice of an injury or illness, farm contractors must notify the employer, owner or operator of the farm where the injury occurred. (See the Employer Resources section below for model language.)
Note: Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees for requesting workers’ compensation, disability benefits or Paid Family Leave.
For a complete listing of farm laborer rights and employer responsibilities under the new law, please visit the NYS Department of Labor’s Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act web page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Disability Benefits (DB) and Paid Family Leave (PFL)
Is DB and PFL coverage required for farm laborers working on an H-2A visa?
Yes, coverage is required for H-2A workers (temporary agricultural workers), however it is likely that many of them may qualify for a PFL waiver if they:
- Regularly work fewer than 20 hours per week and will not work 175 days within a 52-week period, or
- Regularly work 20 or more hours a week, but will not be in employment for more than 26 consecutive weeks.
Are any employees exempt from needing DB and PFL coverage?
The only employees automatically exempt from needing DB and PFL coverage are your own minor children, or full-time students in secondary school. Spouses may be excluded if a spousal exclusion form (DB-212.5) is filed.
How do I obtain DB and PFL coverage?
In 2020, there are 28 insurance carriers that are approved by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to sell DB/PFL insurance in New York. Visit the Paid Family Leave section of the DFS website for the list of approved carriers. Self-insurance is also available, but it requires Board approval and posting a substantial security deposit with the Board. For this reason, most employers choose to provide coverage through the purchase of an insurance policy. For more information on self-insurance, see the Self-Insurance Employers page on the Board’s website.
Can part-time and/or seasonal employees opt out of PFL?
Part-time and/or seasonal employees may qualify to opt out of PFL coverage. Employers must offer a waiver to employees who qualify.
Employees qualify for a waiver if they:
- Work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week, and will not work 175 days in a year; or
- Work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, but won’t be in employment for 26 consecutive weeks.
Where can I get PFL opt-out waiver forms to offer to employees who qualify?
When must workers’ compensation coverage be in place?
Coverage is mandatory for all farms beginning January 1, 2020.
Are any employees exempt from needing workers’ compensation coverage?
Your spouse and minor children do not need workers’ compensation coverage, as long as they are not under an express contract of hire.
How do I obtain workers’ compensation coverage?
You may purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy from one of the more than 200 private insurance carriers authorized by the NYS Department of Financial Services or you may purchase a policy from the State Insurance Fund, a public insurance carrier in New York State by calling 1 (888) 575-5790. Self-insurance is also available, but it requires Board approval and posting a substantial security deposit with the Board. For this reason, most employers choose to provide coverage through the purchase of an insurance policy. For more information on self-insurance, see the Self-Insurance Employers page on the Board’s website.
Where can I get English and Spanish versions of the Notice of Compliance poster?
Under the new law, all employers are now required to display workers’ compensation notification posters in English and Spanish. You can get these posters from your insurance carrier, or from the Board, if you are self-insured.
The NYS Workers’ Compensation Board has compiled the following resources to help you understand and comply with these changes:
- Farm Laborers Fair Practices Act Fact Sheet for Employers
- Translated versions: Español
- Farm Laborers Fair Practices Act Employer Checklist
- Translated versions: Español
- Employer Notification to Farm Contractors (Model Language) [MS WORD]
- Farm Laborers Fair Practices Act Fact Sheet for Employees
- NYS Department of Labor Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act web page
- NYS Department of Labor Updates to Farmworker Rights and Employer Responsibilities fact sheet
- Paid Family Leave Employer Fact Sheet
- Paid Family Leave Employee Opt-Out Waiver Form
- Paid Family Leave website
- List of DFS-approved DB/PFL Insurance Carriers
- Information for employers on Workers’ Compensation and Disability Benefits
- Workers’ Compensation Board Advocate for Business
You can call our helplines for more information and/or assistance in your preferred language.
- For help with workers’ compensation & disability benefits, call (877) 632-4996
- For help with NY Paid Family Leave, call (844) 337-6303
Helplines are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.