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.
Last year many producers learned how important proper staging of round modules can be. From what I’ve seen driving around recently, we may be setting ourselves up for a remedial course.
I’ve seen a lot of round modules (the vast majority of them) were stages very neatly in groups of four rammed completely up against each other. No space whatsoever between them. So far most of the weather in the region this Fall has been beautiful (but hot) to harvest and its easy to forget rain can be an issue. If we get several inches or if it sets in for a significant period of time, these modules can sustain a LOT of degradation and become very tough to gin in some cases.
Please refer to John Deere’s own material found on the last page of the material linked below. It shows perfect examples of what is good and what is not. Modules stacked too close together can be both a quality and a contamination issue. Your producers need to understand how serious this can be.
Stacking modules on the yard too tightly can be an issue too. If you have a large yard and it will be a while before you can get to a number of rolls, the spacing needs to be appropriate here too. If your yard is small and you will get to the modules quickly its obviously not that critical.
In many areas, this crop is better than expected. Let’s keep this quality rolling.
The Department of Labor recently announced a change to its rules as to who is completely exempt from overtime. The Rule change will become effective January 1, 2020. This exemption is in regards to employees that are totally exempt from overtime and not the partial overtime exemption that is available to gins on a seasonal basis.
Under the current (old) rule, to be exempt an employee has to make at least $455 per week ($23,660 annually) paid on a salary basis. The New Rule changes that to a minimum $684 per week ($35,568 annually) also paid on a salary basis. The rest of the rules remain the same. The Obama administration had proposed a similar rule change but that was blocked by the courts and ultimately repealed. That previous (Obama era) proposal was to increase it to $913 per week. This seems much more reasonable (almost exactly half way).
As a refresher, in order for an employee to qualify for this total exemption from overtime, often referred to as the “administrative exemption”, the employee must meet three criteria. The first is to be paid on a salary basis. This means the employee must be paid the same amount each week or pay period. Salaried employees ARE NOT automatically exempt. Salaried-Non Exempt employees is the subject of a whole other article.
The National Cotton Council will be hosting four webinars related to the new farm bill. Sign up for the 2018 Farm Bill has just begun and the NCC is hosting these webinars to help producers understand the various options involved in the process.
The Council is also encouraging gins or other entities to host groups of farmers to allow as many as possible to see the webinars. Questions will be taken via a chat client in the webinar program and the webinars will also be recorded for viewing at a later date. Please Click on the image above for additional information and how you may be able to host a group of farmers at your facility.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a press release late last week that employers should continue to use the current (old) I-9 forms for new hires or re-hires until a new form is released. The current form has an expiration date of August 31, 2019. There is no indication when a new form will be available.
The USCIS has a good website for information regarding the I-9 called I-9 Central. This site has forms, instructions and even webinars you can view to get all the information you may want. For the forms and instructions only, go to www.uscis.gov/I-9
With the increase in ICE activity, the likelihood of getting an audit has also increased. Technical violations of the I-9 can be costly. Please take some time before you go to far in your hiring process to review the I-9 and it’s instructions. The book M-274 is a wealth of information as well you should download and review that book for additional information including tips on spotting fraudulent documents.
Editorial: How a three page form can have 11 pages of instructions and a 125 page manual is beyond me but this is the case… don’t expect it to get better.
We’re only a week away from the last two state unit ginner meetings for the season. The South Carolina Ginners are going to get together at 10AM on September 10 at the Santee Family Development Center in Santee.
The North Carolina and Virginia gins will meet on September 11 at the Wilson Agricultural Center in Wilson. They will also meet at 10AM. Both meetings will be followed by lunch.
Topics expected to be covered include recent H2A activity, Safety Programs, Wage and Hour activity and news among others.
This year we’re asking people to RSVP by following one of the links below. It will help us with minimizing expenses going forward. We hope to see you all in either Wilson or Santee next week.