Massachusetts Farm Labor Laws
Massachusetts farm labor laws can be found in ALM GL ch. 111, § 128G through ALM GL ch. 111, § 128H, ALM GL ch. 149, § 168A, ALM GL ch. 150A, § 5A and ALM GL ch. 151, § 2A. ALM GL ch. 111, § 128G through ALM GL ch. 111, § 128H deal with farm labor camps. ALM GL ch. 149, § 168A deals with labor Contracts with Farm Labor Contractors. ALM GL ch. 150A, § 5A deals with representatives for collective bargaining. ALM GL ch. 151, § 2A deals with minimum wage rates of agricultural workers.
Pursuant to ALM GL ch. 111, § 128G, the Department Of Public Health shall annually inspect all farm labor camps or may delegate any such annual inspection to a local board of health. If a farm labor camp after inspection conforms with the requirements, the department shall issue a certificate of occupancy which shall be posted upon one or more of the buildings comprising such camp. No such camp shall be opened in any year unless a current certificate of occupancy has been so posted. Complaints in writing of violations of the sanitary code, whether filed with the local board of health or the department, shall be investigated by the department as soon as practicable but in any event within thirty days after such filing. If any such complaint is filed with the local board of health, said board shall forthwith forward said complaint to the department[i].
Pursuant to ALM GL ch. 111, § 128H, the department of public health shall, as a part of its inspection of a site for a farm labor camp, determine what educational and recreational opportunities may be available for migrant workers, and shall encourage the development of such opportunities in cooperation with local and state agencies. The department shall protect the right of the migrant worker to enter and leave the premises of the employer during the period of his or her employment, and shall include in its certificate of occupancy a notification to the worker that such right exists. A worker living in quarters apart from the living quarters of his employer shall have reasonable rights of visitation in his or her living quarters outside of regular working hours and the certificate of occupancy issued by the department shall include notification, in English and in Spanish, of said rights[ii].
Pursuant to ALM GL ch. 149, § 168A, any employer who enters into a farm labor contract with a farm labor contractor for the hire of agricultural workers shall require that said contractor exhibit his or her certificate of registration issued pursuant to the Farm Labor Registration Act of 1963 prior to entering into any such contract. Thereafter the employer shall notify the department in writing of the execution of the contract, giving the name of the contractor, the number of the certificate, if any, and other data necessary to identify said certificate of registration. If a worker is not an employee and remains on the labor contractor’s payroll, each labor contractor shall give to each worker with each payment of wages an itemized statement of his wages and deductions and shall submit to the department of labor and workforce development a copy of his or her payroll record. Said record shall include but not be limited to the following: pay rate, hours worked, incentives, deductions for social security, transportation, housing, food, advances and net pay for the period[iii].
Pursuant to ALM GL ch. 150A, § 5, the employer shall recognize as the exclusive representative for the purposes of collective bargaining of all the employees in the bargaining unit, a labor organization which has received a written majority authorization. In the case of a person engaged in agriculture, as hereinafter defined, and having a permanent hired work force of more than four agricultural workers who are not members of his family, the provisions of § 5 shall apply; provided that only the employer unit shall be deemed appropriate for collective bargaining purposes; and provided further that nothing section five shall be construed as constituting authority for any action or proceeding to nullify, amend or otherwise modify any contract or agreement, which is reached by any such person for the seasonal employment of agricultural workers[iv].
Pursuant to ALM GL ch. 151, § 2A, it is against public policy for any employer to employ any person in agriculture and farming at an oppressive and unreasonable wage and any contract, agreement or understanding for or in relation to such employment shall be null and void. A wage of less than one dollar and 60 cents per hour in agriculture and farming shall be conclusively presumed to be oppressive and unreasonable. The cost of board, lodging or other facilities shall not be included as a part of the wage paid to any employee provided, however, that the commissioner may determine the fair value of such board, lodging or other facilities for defined classes of employees and in defined areas, based on average cost to the employer or to groups of employers similarly situated, or average value to groups of employees, or other appropriate measures of fair value[v].
[i] ALM GL ch. 111, § 128G.
[ii] ALM GL ch. 111, § 128H.
[iii] ALM GL ch. 149, § 168A.
[iv] ALM GL ch. 150A, § 5A.
[v] ALM GL ch. 151, § 2A.