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Workers’ Compensation Board

Toolkit for Farm Employers, Owners and Operators

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On July 17, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Farm Workers Bill into lawLink to External Website and established the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2020. Under this law, there are important labor requirements for farm employers, owners and operators. The law also includes some important changes regarding coverage requirements for workers’ compensation, disability benefits, and Paid Family Leave.

Disability Benefits and Paid Family Leave:

  • Coverage is now mandatory: Farm employers, owners and operators are required to provide disability benefits and NY Paid Family Leave coverage to eligible farm laborers.

Workers’ Compensation:

  • Coverage is now mandatory: All employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees regardless of annual payroll. Previously farm employers with less than $1,200 in annual payroll were exempt.
  • Posters must be displayed in English and Spanish: Employers are required to post the mandatory workers’ compensation notice of compliance poster in both English and Spanish. Employers get these posters from their insurance carrier, or, if self-insured, from the Workers’ Compensation Board by emailing Certificates@wcb.ny.gov.
  • New notice requirements for farm contractors: Employers should be aware, and make sure their farm contractors are aware, that upon receiving notice of an injury or illness, farm contractors must notify the employer, owner or operator of the farm where the injury occurred. (See the Employer Resources section below for model language.)

Note: Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees for requesting workers’ compensation, disability benefits or Paid Family Leave.

Frequently Asked Questions

Disability Benefits (DB) and Paid Family Leave (PFL)

When must DB and PFL coverage be in place?

If you already have a DB/PFL policy, you must have the additional coverage in place on January 1, 2020. If you do not already have a DB/PFL policy (or other coverage) in place, you will be required to obtain coverage for any employees who have been in your employment for 30 days. That coverage may commence four weeks after January 31, 2020. If you do not have any employees on January 1, 2020, when you eventually hire them, you will have four weeks from the employees' 30th day of employment to have DB/PFL coverage in place.

Are any employees exempt from needing DB and PFL coverage?

The only employees automatically exempt from needing DB and PFL coverage are your own minor children, or full-time students in secondary school. Spouses may be excluded if a spousal exclusion form (DB-212.5 adobe pdf) is filed.

How do I obtain DB and PFL coverage?

In 2019, there are 29 insurance carriers that are approved by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to sell DB/PFL insurance in New York. DFS will announce the approved insurance carriers for 2020 in October, 2019. Visit the Paid Family Leave section of the DFS websiteLink to External Website for the list of approved carriers. Self-insurance is also available, but it requires Board approval and posting a substantial security deposit with the Board. For this reason, most employers choose to provide coverage through the purchase of an insurance policy. For more information on self-insurance, see the Self-Insurance Employers page on the Board’s website.

Can part-time and/or seasonal employees opt out of PFL?

Part-time and/or seasonal employees may qualify to opt out of PFL coverage. Employers must offer a waiver to employees who qualify.

Employees qualify for a waiver if they:

  • Work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week, and will not work 175 days in a year; or
  • Work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week, but won’t be in employment for 26 consecutive weeks.

Where can I get PFL opt-out waiver forms to offer to employees who qualify?

See PFL Opt-out Waiver formLink to External Website, or visit the forms pageLink to External Website of the Paid Family Leave website.

Workers’ Compensation

When must workers’ compensation coverage be in place?

Coverage is mandatory for all farms beginning January 1, 2020.

Are any employees exempt from needing workers’ compensation coverage?

Your spouse and minor children do not need workers’ compensation coverage, as long as they are not under an express contract of hire.

How do I obtain workers’ compensation coverage?

You may purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy from one of the more than 200 private insurance carriers authorized by the NYS Department of Financial Services or you may purchase a policy from the State Insurance Fund, a public insurance carrier in New York State by calling 1 (888) 575-5790. Self-insurance is also available, but it requires Board approval and posting a substantial security deposit with the Board. For this reason, most employers choose to provide coverage through the purchase of an insurance policy. For more information on self-insurance, see the Self-Insurance Employers page on the Board’s website.

Where can I get English and Spanish versions of the Notice of Compliance poster?

Under the new law, all employers are now required to display workers’ compensation notification posters in English and Spanish. You can get these posters from your insurance carrier, or from the Board, if you are self-insured.

Employer Resources

The NYS Workers’ Compensation Board has compiled the following resources to help you understand and comply with these changes:

Helpline Support

You can call our helplines for more information and/or assistance in your preferred language.

  • For help with workers’ compensation & disability benefits, call (877) 632-4996
  • For help with NY Paid Family Leave, call (844) 337-6303

Helplines are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Webinars

This fall, the Board is hosting a series of educational webinars for farm employers, owners and operators. These one-hour, online sessions will cover what you need to know about workers’ compensation, disability benefits and Paid Family Leave, and allow time for questions. Space is limited so register for your preferred session today:

Please watch this space for additional sessions.