Earlier this year we heard that gins would be an emphasis of the Wage and Hour Division in the Southeast this season. It seems that rumor has come true. This week we’ve heard of several gins in SC and Mississippi (also part of the Atlanta region) getting visits from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division staff.
The typical inspection/audit will include topics such as payroll, Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act, H-2A (if you employ any) etc. Normally the inspectors will ask for payroll records to check for minimum wage violations, and overtime violations. If you have H-2A workers it will be bit more involved. If you have and house migrant workers (employees that leave their home to come to work for you) or if you have H-2A workers, your housing will likely get inspected. If you transport migrant workers or H-2A workers, your vehicles and insurance will also likely be inspected.
It’s probably too late to do anything about your payroll but take some time to inspect your housing if you provide it weekly or more often. You are responsible for the condition of the housing regardless of the condition at the start of the year. Inspect your vehicles. If you transport migrant or H-2A workers (especially H-2A) there are very specific things that must be included. Your H-2A agent should help you with that.
It is our experience that how easy or hard the inspection will be can hinge on how well the information they will be looking at is organized. If it is all over the place and hard to locate, it will be a long day. If it is neatly organized in a binder or two, you pay stubs are well documented with the required information etc, it can go a lot more smoothly.
An easy place to start is with your posters. Do you have the OSHA poster? Do you have the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act (MSPA) Poster? Do you have the Minimum Wage Poser? If you have H-2A workers, do you have the H-2A poster? All these posters can be ordered from the Department of Labor directly but in the meantime, you can print them out and post them to make sure SOMETHING is on the wall.
We have a couple documents to help you in understanding the needs of working migrant or H-2A workers in today’s environment. The First is a guide developed for the Tobacco industry and is full of full color information on both H-2A and MSPA workers. GAP SOLUTIONS MANUAL . The second is one specifically for cotton ginning including the proper use of our partial overtime exemption. GINNERS PRACTICAL GUIDE…
Please take some time to review your practices and these two documents. Neither is long and but your need to understand the regulations before you get audited. Please give our office a call if you have questions regarding either of these guides.