Gallagher proposes new farmworker overtime bill to prevent cuts in workers’ hours

The proposal seeks to strike a balance between employers and farmworkers to ensure hours aren’t cut to avoid paying overtime.

A new bill could overhaul California’s agricultural overtime laws to ensure farmworkers are paid fairly. 

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (R–Yuba City) introduced Assembly Bill 3056 to push back against the cut hours that farmworkers have faced in recent years because of state overtime wage law. 


The backstory: Assembly Bill 1066 took effect in 2019, which eliminated exemptions for agricultural workers from the state’s overtime wage law. 

  • The law required farmworkers to receive overtime pay after working eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. 
  • A study from the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, University of California last year showed that the law led to decreases in weekly working hours and earnings for farmworkers. 
  • Employers have restricted hours to avoid paying the higher overtime rates. 

The big picture: Gallagher said in a statement announcing AB 3056 that the 2016 law failed to recognize the distinct nature of agricultural work, which is characterized by its seasonal aspects, reliance on natural factors and the handling of perishable goods. 

  • His bill would provide a balanced adjustment to farmworker overtime requirements by mandating overtime pay for agricultural employees working over nine hours in a day or 50 hours in a week. 
  • Before AB 1066 took effect, the state requirement for overtime was 10 hours in a day. 
  • Gallagher’s bill aims strike a balance in the overtime requirements, providing flexibility to prevent reductions in hours and wages. 

What they’re saying: “I am committed to striking a balance that ensures fair treatment for agricultural workers while also considering the needs of California’s farmers,” Gallagher said. “This bill aims to address the unintended consequences of AB 1066, safeguarding both worker rights and the vitality of California agriculture.” 

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