Fact Sheet for SB21-087: The Colorado Ag Labor Bill
Note: As interpreted by RMFU staff. This document does not constitute legal guidance.
Effective immediately, ag employees are protected against retaliation including within ninety days after an employee has asserted a claim or has sought protected rights under this bill. Retaliation could include such things as a demotion, reduced compensation, denial of a promotion, employment termination or anything else that adversely affects the employee.
The ag employee or someone with a familial-type relationship to that employee can bring forward a claim either in district court or through reporting a violation to the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment (CDLE).
Effective immediately, ag employees are now included in the Colorado Labor Peace Act and can now organize and unionize. They must follow guidelines for providing notice and going through mediation/arbitration before striking.
Effective Jan 1, 2022, ag employees will receive at least the state’s prevailing minimum wage and wages will be adjusted annually based on inflation measured through the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Range worker weekly salary will be $515 starting Jan 1, 2022 and will also be adjusted with CPI starting Jan 1, 2023.
Workers must receive a 30-minute uncompensated meal break for every shift of 5 hours or more. There is an option for an on-duty, compensated meal break, however. They also must receive 10-minute rest breaks every 4 hours.
Livestock haulers and combine harvester operators are exempt.
CDLE will promulgate all rules regarding overtime this fall, and they will be adopted by Jan 31, 2022.
Right of Access to Service Providers
Effective immediately, employers cannot restrict reasonable access for invited guests to visit employees at their provided housing.
Employers cannot interfere with reasonable access of key service providers (a healthcare worker including a promotora, clergy, educational provider, an attorney, legal advocate, government official, consular representative or any other service provider) with the employee whether or not the employee is working.
Rules will be created and in effect on Jan 31, 2022 for additional access for key service providers when employees are on the clock and working in excess of 40 hours per week.
Employers can establish protocols regarding food safety and livestock practices as long as that applies to all third-party visitors on a work site.
Effective immediately, employees dependent on their employer for transportation must be provided transportation into town where they can conduct necessary business transactions and access important services at least once per week. Range workers must be provided this service at least once every three weeks. If a worker has their own vehicle and if they are allowed to park on-site, the employer is not required to provide transportation.
Notice of worker rights and protections must be clearly posted on-site and at employer provided housing as well as electronically if there is regular electronic communication.
Heat Stress, Short-handled Hoe and Hand Weeding/Thinning
Rules for heat related stress will be created and will be in effect on Jan 31, 2022.
The use of a short-handled hoe for weeding/thinning in a stooped, kneeling or squatting position is prohibited effective immediately.
Beginning Jan 1, 2022, a worker may only hand weed or thin for up to 20% of their weekly time unless the farm fits into the following categories:
Thinning of high density crops planted less than 2 inches apart
Hand weeding/thinning at a certified organic farm
Hand weeding/thinning/tending seedlings
Hand weeding/thinning/tending crops in planters or tubs where the opening does not exceed 15 inches
Seeding, planting, transplanting, harvesting by hand or with a hand tool
Hand weeding/thinning/tending crops in plastic mulch
The Colorado Department of Agriculture will promulgate rules for two other categories for a hand weeding/thinning exemption; farms transitioning to organic and individual farm variances if they don’t fit within the above categories but can demonstrate the need to hand weed/thin more than 20% of a weekly workers time. They will be created and in effect on Jan 31, 2022.
Employers must provide 5-minute paid rest periods for workers while hand weeding/thinning. These breaks should occur in the middle of work periods and there should be at least 15-minutes of rest every 4 hours.
Employers shall provide gloves and knee pads as necessary.
Employer Provided Housing
Effective immediately, during a public health emergency an employer must provide each worker with:
80 square feet of living space for single occupancy units
120 square feet sleeping quarters and 120 square feet cooking/eating areas for combined housing
All housing shall have screened windows or have an air filtration system
Allow Public Health and Environment to routinely inspect housing
Employers must provide training for safety during a public health emergency including printed information that includes contact info for Migrant Farmworker Division of Colorado Legal Services and state and federal guidance concerning the public health emergency.
CDA Hand Weeding Draft Rule
CDA Public Comment Form
CDLE Rulemaking Schedule and Info
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Letter Commenting on Overtime
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Letter Commenting on Heat Stress