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Reforestation Worker Rights

This card summarizes the legal protections for workers who perform predominantly manual reforestation activities such as tree planting, brush clearing, precommercial tree thinning, and forest firefighting.

Applicable laws may include:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker
  • Protection Act
  • Service Contract Act
  • H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Workers
  • State Requirements or State Labor Laws

Wages: You must be paid the highest of: the wage the employer promised you at the time of recruitment; the wage the employer promised the government you would be paid, if you are working on an H-2B visa; or the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage requirements apply even if you are paid by the acre or tree. Normally, you must receive time and one-half your regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a 7- day workweek. Some states may require overtime after 8 hours in a day and provide higher minimum wages and/or fringe benefits.

Government Contracts: If you work on a government contract you must receive no less than the prevailing wage and fringe benefits specified for your occupation in the wage determination applicable to the contract. You must also receive time and one-half your regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek on a covered contract.

Deductions: An employer may deduct from your pay their costs for providing food and housing, but an employer may not take deductions from your pay for business expenses-such as for tools and/or equipment required to do your job-to the extent that such deductions would take your pay below the required wage.

Disclosure: Your employer is required to disclose to you in writing the terms of your employment, including rates of pay and other benefits, period of employment, place of employment, worker's compensation, deductions, transportation arrangements, and housing conditions.

Housing: Housing provided or controlled by the employer must meet applicable federal and state safety and health standards during the entire time you stay in the housing.

Transportation: Transportation provided by the employer must be safe and meet all applicable federal and state safety requirements, including insurance and driver's licensing.

Field Sanitation: At the worksite, you are entitled to reasonable use of the toilets, drinking water, and handwashing facilities which your employer is required by law to provide.