Harvesting is trying to get going…… and the late start, fruit quality issues, current prices, and labor that hasn’t yet appeared make us wish for the slow days of July!

Posting, Worker Information, and Transportation are again going to be the focus of enforcement by the U.S. and Florida Departments of Labor. The change to the Migrant & Seasonal Protection Act as amended in 1995 now states that part of the worker information terms & conditions of employment has to disclose the workers’ compensation information. This information must include the name of the insurance carrier, the policy holder, the name and telephone number of each person to be notified of an injury or death, and the period of time in which a claim must be reported. U.S. DOL enforcement personnel have told us that the WH-516 – Worker Information – Terms and Conditions of Employment poster would meet this requirement, provided it was given to every worker upon hiring. The enforcement officials went further to state that if they ask the worker if they were given this information in writing and the worker states “no”, that only a form signed by the worker at the time of hire stating he has received the form would “save” the employer from citation. Additionally, Florida enforcement personnel will be looking for field sanitation compliance, unauthorized vehicles and drivers, timekeeping in the field, and postings. Florida DBPR will be strictly enforcing all rules this season! (29 CFR Part 500)

The law change in October brought some good changes….. and along with the “carrots” come some “sticks” for the employer. The fine for late reporting of claims has increased to $1,000 per late report (a claim reported more than 7 days after the accident) and repeat offenders (more than 10% of claims reported late) can be fined an additional $1,000 per claim (total of $2,000 per claim!). Another important change is for employees who knowingly use fraudulent documents to gain employment – their claims can be denied entirely! This change also affects employers who knowingly allow employees to use fraudulent documents to gain employment – there are criminal sanctions for employers found guilty (up to a year in jail). See the enclosed hand-out for further information! (FS 440.105)

Increased harvesting activity leads people to “rush” their jobs – sometimes with dire consequences. Please remind all your equipment drivers (goats, tractors, van, bus, and semi-trucks) to be more safety conscious with the increased work-load. Driver safety should be “refreshed” with all operators – with special attention to the driving problems all of our “winter visitors” cause at this time of year!

Farm Labor Contractor (Crew Leader Card) Registration is at its peak at this time of year. The Farm Labor Testing and Registration Office of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation in Tallahassee oversees the Crew Leader registration for the State of Florida as well as Region 4 of the U.S. Department of Labor. This office is a hard working group but they can only do so much work in one day! This means that you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to submit renewal applications or documents. Two tips that will help with the process: 1) place a cover sheet on all documents listing the crew leaders’ name and social security number that it pertains to; and 2) send all the documents at one time. Please call us here at CHAPP with questions or come by for your registration needs!

We hope everyone had a Blessed, Safe and Happy Thanksgiving! We would appreciate any ideas for topics, comments on our information, and any questions you may have! Please call us at (800)242-7898 or e-mail us at wwurth@chappinc.com . Remember: working safely pays!