Do I Have to Pay My Agricultural Employees Overtime and Minimum Wage?

By Lida Bannink | Labor & Employment

As everyone who has worked in agriculture knows, agriculture happens in seasons. The seasonal variability means that during peak season, agricultural employees are required to work well over the standard 40 hours per week. The question of whether or not agricultural employees must be paid overtime and minimum wage is a complicated analysis of state and federal law.

The applicable federal law is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that indicates that employees who perform work that is incidental or in conjunction with a farming operation do not need to be paid overtime. Further, any employer who does not utilize more than 500 “man days” of agricultural labor in any calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year is exempt from both minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA for the current calendar year. With other limited exceptions, all other agricultural employees must be paid the federal minimum wage.

As an employer you may be thinking great, I may not have to pay overtime or minimum wage. However, not so fast, we still need to look at state law. Federal law does not supersede state requirements.

In Minnesota, agricultural employees are entitled to overtime compensation if they are paid by any means other than a “salary” of a threshold amount. Even though overtime must be paid to these agricultural employees, overtime is only paid for those hours worked in excess of 48 hours in a workweek. Also, Minnesota agricultural workers are not exempt from the state minimum wage.

Thus, generally for an employer in Minnesota, overtime must be paid to agricultural employees who work in excess of 48 hours per week and employees must be paid minimum wage.

In Wisconsin, agriculture is generally exempt from paying overtime. Further, although agricultural employers must pay minimum wage in Wisconsin, Wisconsin has an agricultural minimum wage that is lower than the general state minimum wage.

Please be aware that the above analysis is at a very high level. Whether or not an individual operation is required to pay minimum wage and/or overtime depends on multiple factors including the specific type of operation, the duties of the workers, the age of the workers, etc. If you have any questions regarding whether you are required to pay overtime and/or minimum wage, it is important that you contact an attorney who is experienced in agricultural employment law.


If you have any questions about the content of this article or are looking for assistance in evaluating employee wage decisions, please contact Labor & Employment attorney Lida Bannink at 651-351-2116, or email at

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