October 10, 2019
In the United States, an 8 hour workday and a 40 hour workweek is considered standard, but that was not always true for agricultural workers. Agricultural work is grueling, and often takes more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week to complete. In 2016, the state of California officially recognized that the extra work being put in by agricultural workers wasn’t fair, and passed Assembly Bill 1066. Under this bill, farm workers become eligible for overtime pay after working 8 hours in a single day or 40 hours in a week. Prior to the bill passing, farm workers were only eligible for overtime pay after working 10 hours in a single day.
Imagine that you are an agricultural worker that is married to an hourly worker who works in an office. It is harvesting season, and you are expected/required to work until the job gets done, which is almost guaranteed to take more than 8 hours. You put in a 10 hour day of physically demanding work, and you are compensated for your extra time at your standard hourly rate. In comparison, the moment your spouse works an extra hour beyond 8, they are compensated at their hourly rate plus an additional half of their hourly rate. It is easy to understand how this arrangement can quickly get frustrating.
California Assembly Bill 1066 helps to level the playing field for agricultural workers. It does not lessen the load of the work they are expected to perform, but it does help to adjust their compensation accordingly.