Farmworker Employment Rights

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Getting Paid

Minimum Wage Is Required

All adult farmworkers must be paid minimum wage. Michigan’s minimum wage is $10.10 an hour. Even if you are paid "piece rate" (by the box or pound), you still must get at least the minimum wage for each hour you work. If your employer also employs workers who have an H-2A visa, you may have a right to a higher wage. To learn more, read Your Rights with "H-2A" Jobs.

Write Down Your Hours

Protect yourself by writing down the hours that each member of your family works every day. Do this even if you are paid piece rate. Use this calendar from Farmworker Legal Services (FLS) to record your hours. At the end of each work day, write down the time that you began working and the time you quit working for the day. Also write this information for your spouse and children, if any. Write down lunch and break times. If there is ever a dispute about your wages, an accurate record of hours you worked will help you prove your hours and collect your pay.

You Must Be Paid on Time

If you hand harvest, you must be paid at least once a week within two days after the end of the workweek, unless you agree to a different payday in writing.

If you quit, are fired, or are laid off, the timing of your last paycheck depends on the type of work you do and whether you voluntarily left. If you hand harvest and you are fired or laid off, you must get your final pay check within 1 day. If you are a hand harvester and quit your job you must be paid within 3 days. If you are not a hand harvester and you are fired, laid off, or quit, you must be paid on your next regularly scheduled pay day.

Each Worker Must Be Paid with a Separate Paycheck

Even children must be paid with a separate paycheck. Read Children in the Field to learn about the jobs that children can do.

Record of Hours

On most farms, your boss must give you a record showing the following:

  • The number of hours you worked each week

  • If you are paid by the piece, the number of pieces you picked

  • The amount you earn per hour and per piece

Your boss must keep separate records for each worker, even for children.


Your boss must deduct taxes from your pay. Your boss cannot take any other money out of your pay (for housing, utilities, loans, etc.) unless you agree in writing.

If You Are Injured

Tell your boss right away if you are injured. Ask your boss to take you to the nearest hospital, health clinic, or urgent care provider. Tell your health care provider that you were injured at work. If you need medical care or miss more than one week of work because of an injury on the job, your boss's insurance company may have to pay your medical bills and lost wages. You can receive worker’s compensation even after you leave Michigan.


Employers may not treat you differently or discriminate against you for any of the following reasons:

  • Your citizenship or immigration status

  • Your place of birth, country of origin, ancestry, native language, accent, or because you are perceived as looking or sounding "foreign"

  • You have filed a complaint, cooperated with a government investigation, or asserted your rights

  • You have children

There are some exceptions to the rules above. If you believe you have suffered discrimination, call FLS at 1-800-968-4046 or the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division – Immigrant and Employee Rights Section at 1‑800‑255‑7688.

Were You Fired or Laid Off?

“At-will” employment means you can be fired or laid off without any reason, but you usually cannot be fired for any of the following reasons:

  • Your race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability

  • You complained about your pay, unlawful working conditions, or poor housing conditions

  • You were promised a certain length of work or specific amount of money (by “contract”) and you belong to a union or are an H2-A worker

Your supervisor may not have authority to make hiring and firing decisions. If you are not sure if you have been fired or laid off, ask your boss. If you are laid off, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. To learn more, go to Unemployment Benefits.

Documents from your job are important. Be sure to keep all pay stubs, time slips, contracts, employee handbooks, work rules, W-2 forms, and copies of all documents you are asked to sign. These documents are important to protect your legal rights and to get benefits in the future, like unemployment benefits.

You cannot be forced to leave the migrant camp unless the owner gets a court order signed by a judge to evict you and your family. This is true even if you do not pay cash for your housing. To learn more about the eviction process read Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start? If you have questions about your rights call the Michigan Farmworker Law Hotline at 1-800-968-4046.

This information was provided by Farmworker Legal Services (FLS). FLS is a legal aid office with lawyers and other legal staff who provide free legal assistance and referrals to migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Michigan.