Urban Agriculture
University of California
Urban Agriculture

Labor Laws and Risk Management

Farm worker harvesting nectarines
Farmers who are unfamiliar with applicable state and federal laws risk being out of compliance and incurring serious fines. The terms of the Fair Labors Standard Act (FSLA), for example, establish criteria that could lead farmers to have interns or volunteers who would actually be viewed as employees in the eyes of the law. Federal and state laws outline mandatory safety requirements for employees, such as Illness and Injury Prevention Plans (IIPPs). Employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance that will protect employees in the event of any accident or injury. These are just a few examples of labor issues that urban farmers will need to consider if they have paid or even unpaid labor on their farm. Only farms that are part of a non-profit organization can use volunteers, and federal guidelines determine what constitutes volunteer work.

One of the best comprehensive resources is the California Guide to Labor Laws for Small Farms.

Other helpful resources include:

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