OLYMPIA — The state House of Representatives voted 91-7 on Friday to approve legislation to allow farmworkers to receive overtime pay, and to provide protections for farmers from retroactive overtime pay lawsuits.
The legislation phases in overtime pay over a three-year period starting in 2022. By 2024, farmworkers will be eligible for overtime pay after working more than 40 hours in a week, in line with what workers in most other industries already receive.
Agricultural workers have been long excluded from overtime pay under state and federal labor laws. Labor advocates have stated that the longtime exemption was unjust and unfair to farmworkers.
The bill also protects farmers from being sued retroactively for unpaid overtime wages. Farmers have previously stated that retroactive pay lawsuits would unfairly punish them for following the state's laws.
The bill does not include language, sought by agricultural groups, to allow employers flexibility with paying overtime during busy harvest times. Groups raised concerns that the new overtime rules would make it more challenging to harvest crops in a tight window.
The Senate voted 37-12 on March 9 on a companion bill. The legislation now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for a signature.