Farming Across Cultures Communication Program
Legal and Compliance Issues
Farm business owners and managers should have a basic understanding of the various laws that apply to agricultural labor. This section is intended as a guide for agricultural employers only, not an official presentation or interpretation of any of the laws and regulations discussed within. Readers should recognize that new laws are created, other laws amended, and that State laws vary. Please consult an attorney for legal advice.
An overview of laws specific to agricultural employers can be seen here:
Dairy employers that hire a foreign born work force have to follow the same agricultural labor laws as any other ag employer. For more information on immigration law, social security mismatch letters or what to do in the event of a raid:
- Introduction to Immigration Law
- No Match SS Letters
- Employment Eligibility and Enforcement Resources
All employers are required to verify the eligibility of each employee hired to work in the United States.
Cash wages that you pay to employees for farm work are generally subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. If the wages are subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes, they are also subject to federal income tax withholding.
If you hire one or more full or part-time employees in Vermont, or hire employees outside of Vermont and they work for you in Vermont, you are required to carry Workers Compensation. The Vermont Department of Labor pursues all valid claims regardless of an individual's documentation status.
An employer cannot remove wages from an employee's paycheck unless the employee has signed an authorization allowing employer to do so or the employer sufficiently documents the employee's intention to repay. An employer cannot withhold a week of pay, pay for "damages", or food without the signed authorization. Employers who make purchases for an employee should provide employees with a receipt at which point the employee can pay the employer the amount due. "An employee who voluntarily leaves employment shall be paid on the last regular pay day, or if there is no regular pay day, on the following Friday. An employee who is discharged from employment shall be paid within 72 hours of the discharge." "Employers must pay employees on a weekly basis. However, after providing written notice to its employees, an employer may issue paychecks on a bi-weekly or semi-monthly basis. Payday shall be within six (6) days of the last day of the pay period." "Employers must provide a wage statement to its employees with each payment of wages. This statement must set forth, at a minimum, the total hours worked, the hourly rate, gross pay and each deduction fully itemized."[Vermont Dept of Labor]
Maintaining accurate records as part of the farm business includes information related to employees and personnel actions. Under Vermont law, an employer is required to maintain, for two years, true and accurate records of the hours worked by each employee and of the wages paid to each employee. Furthermore, upon demand, an employer is also required to furnish to the Commissioner of the Department of Labor a sworn statement of these records and allow the Commissioner, their deputy or authorized agent to conduct an inspection of the records at any reasonable time. The U.S. Department of Labor has information on Recordkeeping & Reporting, here
Last modified October 17 2011 10:29 AM