“The easiest way to handle a bonus is to base it on a percentage of W-2 earnings for the year — that way, you’ll be sure that overtime earnings are covered.”

Larry Davis, Southern Cotton Ginners Association, said, “It’s my experience that a discretionary bonus opens you up to potential problems. If you base the bonus on W-2 wages, you’re documented and you’re OK.”

If migrant workers are hired, Nash says, requirements of the Migrant Worker Protection Act must be met. Under the act, anyone doing any kind of agricultural work and away from his residence overnight is considered a migrant worker.

“You must disclose, in writing, in the worker’s native language, how much he/she will be paid, how long they will work, etc., and this must be given to them upon recruitment.”

If housing is provided for workers, the Department of Labor must be contacted 45 days before workers arrive and a pre-occupancy housing inspection must be conducted.

“There are 104 items on the form that need to be checked,” Nash says. Notice must be posted telling workers how to get in contact with Department of Labor officials if housing conditions are not meeting requirements.

The employer’s federal ID number must be on check stubs of payments to migrant workers, and if they are not paid the amount of salary and/or overtime when due, it is a violation.

Child labor law violations are seldom seen, Nash says, but rules are very specific for ginning operations “and you need to be aware of these.”

Information on the various Department of Labor regulations can be found at www.dol.gov.

hbrandon@farmpress.com