Labor issues? Get ready for the hot buttons | Employment, law, labor | Michigan Farm News

Labor issues? Get ready for the hot buttons

Category: Opinion, Fruits & Vegetables

by Kim Clarke, Varnum Law

Together we will cover the many of the agriculture employment issues that we predict will be hot button issues for farms in 2018. (Pictured: Katie Vargus, GLALS Division Operations Manager)

As we being to close the books on 2017, it is time for growers to start the planning process for next season's labor needs and compliance issues. You are invited to attend Farm Employment: Your Questions Answered, the annual seminar hosted by Michigan Farm Bureau, Great Lakes Ag Labor Services and Varnum. The day-long seminar is presented four times in January at various locations around the state:

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 – Hudsonville
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 - Traverse City
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 – Lansing
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 - Lawrence

Kim Clarke_MFN_2017I am presenting alongside Michigan Farm Bureau’s Great Lakes Ag Labor Services (GLALS) division Operations Manager Kate Vargas, and together we will cover many of the agriculture employment issues that we predict will be hot button issues for farms in 2018. Most importantly, we want to hear from you and answer your questions.

During the seminar, we will showcase the Agriculture Employment Compliance Guide, an online resource with up-to-date information on federal and state laws that affect farm employers and practical tips on everyday employment issues for Michigan farmers.

GLALS has partnered with Varnum to create an easy-to-use guide for farm employers trying to keep up with sometimes overwhelmingly-complex federal and state employment laws.

New for the 2018 seminar is a "mock audit," where we walk through the specific details and strategies of a U.S. Department of Labor audit. We will use real-life data and situations with grower, investigator, H-2A service agency and attorney involvement.

In the afternoon, there is an optional two-hour session that will focus on H-2A and H-2B issues. With labor shortages throughout the State, many farmers are turning to the program to find the necessary workers. However, the program requires extra attention to employment practices and compliance due to the many and complex details of the programs. We will dive deep into the requirements of the program and why it may or may not be a fit for your farm.

As a partner at Varnum, I have worked closely with many agriculture clients for the last 20+ years, from small, family-owned farms to large co-ops. My understanding of agricultural employment issues comes from growing up on my family's labor intensive specialty crop farm, and specifically defending our farm against a 10-year-long multi-claim class action employment lawsuit. Similarly, Katie's experience working on her family's apple orchard during the orchard's first years using the H-2A program have provided her a unique skill set to lead operations of Great Lakes Ag Labor Services' H-2A program

Katie and I hope to see you at one of the Farm Employment seminars in January. For more information and to register, visit: