Agricultural workers must earn at least the Washington State minimum wage for all hours worked. Agricultural workers who work more than 40 hours per week are not eligible for overtime pay. While agricultural workers are often paid a piece rate, they still must earn at least the state’s minimum wage for every hour worked.
Minimum wage rates for 2021:
- $13.69 per hour for ages 16 and older.
- $11.64 for minors under age 16
(85% of the minimum wage).
Hand-harvest laborers as described in RCW 49.46.010(3)(a) are exempt from minimum wage laws.
Piece Rate Wages
Some agricultural workers are paid on a piece-rate basis. Piece rate wages are based on a worker’s productivity. Regardless of a worker’s productivity, they must earn at least minimum wage for all hours worked and rest breaks. Employers must pay workers an agreed wage or minimum wage, whichever is greater.
Regular Rate of Pay
To calculate a worker’s regular rate of pay, divide the total compensation (including non-discretionary bonuses) earned in a workweek by the total hours worked, not including rest breaks. This regular rate of pay cannot be less than minimum wage. If the calculated regular rate of pay is less than minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference so the worker is paid at least minimum wage.
Non-discretionary bonuses are bonuses that are guaranteed to workers for meeting certain production rates. These bonuses can be paid based on a defined time period or at the end of the entire harvest season. These bonuses must be included when calculating a piece-rate worker’s regular rate of pay. When workers receive a non-discretionary bonus, their rest break pay must be retroactively recalculated and the difference paid to the worker.
Discretionary bonuses are given at the discretion of the employer and are not guaranteed to workers. They are not promised or expected. These bonuses are not included when calculating a worker’s regular rate of pay.
It is the employer’s responsibility to keep track of:
- All rates of pay.
- This includes hourly, piece rate active time, piece rate down time, bonuses, etc.
- Piece rate units produced.
- Rest breaks.
- The amount of time spent performing these duties.
For full details on recordkeeping, see the Agricultural recordkeeping page and our administrative policy ES.D.2 – Recordkeeping and access to payroll records (agricultural employment).
Most agricultural workers are exempt from overtime under Washington State law and are not eligible for overtime after working 40 hours in a workweek.
Overtime does not apply to individuals working:
- On a farm including:
- Soil cultivation.
- Raising a crop – including harvesting any agricultural or horticultural commodity.
- Handling livestock – including raising, shearing, feeding, caring for, training, and management of livestock, bees, poultry, furbearing animals, and wildlife.
- Farm operations – including management, conservation, improvement, or maintenance of a farm, its tools and equipment.
- In packing, packaging, grading, storing, or delivering any agricultural or horticultural commodity.
- In commercial canning, freezing, or processing any agricultural or horticultural commodity including its delivery to a terminal market for distribution for consumption.
- In the cultivation, raising, harvesting, and processing of oysters, including delivery to a terminal market for distribution for consumption.
See RCW 49.46.130 for complete details.
For more details, see L&I administrative policy: Minimum Wage Act Applicability - ES.A.1.