There’s a lot to think about when hiring employees, including complying with laws and regulations that address required forms, reporting, wages and withholdings, hours and overtime, working and housing conditions, and so on. This section, Hiring & On-Boarding Employees, 1) introduces the basic federal laws and regulations that employers need to comply with; 2) describes where these laws fall short of providing decent working conditions; and 3) offers guidance on providing fair working conditions by implementing standards developed by the Agricultural Justice Project through an on-going, stakeholder-led process.
Note: In this toolkit we use the terms “AJP standards” and “Food Justice Certification standards” interchangeably, as shorthand for the AJP’s Social Stewardship Standards for Farms, Ranches, and other Food and Agriculture Businesses. The Agricultural Justice Project maintains only one set of standards.
AJP standards require first that farms meet all legal requirements for hiring and employing workers. This requirement might seem unnecessary, but state and federal regulators too rarely enforce the laws that are already on the books. By requiring Food Justice Certified employers to comply with the law, AJP adds another layer of oversight that is necessary for guaranteeing the fairness of a given workplace.
Beyond legal requirements, Food Justice Certification requires the farm manager or owners to
- recognize the rights of employees to freedom of association and collective bargaining;
- pay living wages or meet a set of alternative requirements until living wages are possible;
- provide a safe workplace;
- refrain from hiring minors for full time labor or exploiting child labor;
- provide significant learning opportunities, a written learning contract, and fair working conditions to any apprentices;
- and much more…
All requirements of Food Justice Certification are outlined in detail in the full AJP standards document. Shorter 2-page summaries are available addressing benefits for workers and benefits for farm and ranch operators.
Note that this toolkit offers only a general introduction to legal compliance, not professional legal advice. You and your business are responsible for complying with all applicable local, state, and federal laws. See our Recommended Legal Resources for help finding legal guidance specific to your situation.
Summaries of AJP standards #
Complete AJP standards #
- AJP Social Stewardship Standards for Farms, Ranches, and other Food and Agriculture Businesses (2019v4, full text)