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LABOR STANDARDS FOR MIGRANT AND SEASONAL AGRICULTURE WORKERS
The Migrant and Seasonal Agriculture Workers Protection Act (MSPA)
requires agricultural employers, agricultural associations, and farm
labor contractors to observe certain labor standards when employing
migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, unless exemptions apply.
Certain persons and organizations, such as family businesses, small
businesses, some seed and tobacco operations, labor unions, and their
employees, are exempt. MSPA requires farm labor contractors to
register with the U.S. Department of Labor.
What is the difference between migrant and seasonal agricultural
As defined by MSPA, migrant agricultural workers are those employed
in agricultural work of a seasonal or temporary nature who are
required to be absent overnight from their permanent residence.
Seasonal agricultural workers also are employed in agricultural work
of a seasonal or temporary nature, but return to their permanent
residence at night.
There are two classes of seasonal agricultural workers: field
workers; and workers employed in canning, packing, ginning, seed
conditioning and other processing operations, who are transported to
or from their place of employment by means of a day-haul operation.
Day-haul workers assemble at a pick-up point each day waiting to be
hired and employed, are transported to the job site, and later the
same day are transported to a drop-off point.
What are the rights of migrant and seasonal agricultural workers?
When migrant agricultural workers are recruited by farm labor
contractors, agricultural employers, and agricultural associations,
accurate information about the prospective employment must be
disclosed to them.
The information must be presented in writing in English, Spanish, or
other languages, as appropriate, and must include the following:
work site location, existence of strike, work stoppage, slow down, or
interruption of operations by employees at the work site; crops; work
activities; pay rate; benefits provided such as transportation and
housing; charges for the benefits; employer commissions or other
benefits for sales made to the workers by any establishment near the
job site; migrant housing terms and conditions.
The above information must be disclosed in writing to day-haul
seasonal workers when they are being recruited. Other seasonal
agricultural workers have a right to the information in writing upon
request when they are offered work. When presented in writing, the
information must be in English, Spanish, or other languages, as
Thereafter, migrant and seasonal agricultural workers have a right to
receive upon request information described above at any other time
during their employment.
Migrant and seasonal agricultural workers have the following rights,
regardless of whether their employers are farm labor contractors,
agricultural employers or agricultural associations:
-- to have the terms of their working arrangements met;
-- when being recruited, to have farm labor contractors show proof
that they have registered with the Department of Labor;
-- to be paid wages when due;
-- to receive itemized, written statements of earnings for each pay
period, amounts deducted and reasons for the deductions;
-- to purchase goods and services from the source of their choice;
-- when provided transportation, to be transported in vehicles which
are properly insured, are operated by licensed drivers, and meet
federal and State safety standards;
-- to have a poster setting forth their rights displayed in a
conspicuous place at the job site.
For migrant workers who are provided housing:
-- to be housed in a facility which meets substantive federal and
State safety and health standards;
-- to have a statement of the terms and conditions of occupancy
posted conspicuously at the housing site or presented to them.
Migrant and seasonal agricultural workers have a right to receive the
wages their employers agreed to pay them. Under the Fair Labor
Standards Act, that amount is generally not less than $4.25 per hour,
the federal minimum wage. Federal law does not require overtime pay
for most agricultural workers.
Violations of MSPA may result in administrative sanctions, civil or
criminal prosecution, civil money penalties of up to $1,000 per
violation, criminal fines of up to $10,000, and prison terms of up to
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor's
Employment Standards Administration enforces MSPA. Inquiries are
treated in a confidential manner. MSPA prohibits retaliation or
discrimination against workers who file complaints, testify, or in
any way exercise their rights on their own behalf or on the behalf of
For more information...
Contact either the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division,
listed in most telephone directories under U.S. Government,
Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, or the
nearest office of State Employment Services, listed under State
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department
of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and
does not carry the force of legal opinion.
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