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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary
Department of Workforce Development
201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
State rule changes that took effect Feb. 1 cover illness, sanitation, excessive heat
MADISON – Migrant seasonal farm workers in Wisconsin have additional health and safety protections, including heat protections, under revised administrative rules that took effect Feb. 1, 2024. The updates create requirements for disease and illness prevention in migrant labor camps should a public health emergency arise.
The changes are the first significant updates to state migrant labor rules in Chapter DWD 301 since 2007. The rules govern the DWD-administered Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) program. An analysis and text of the rule changes are available online.
"Wisconsin's migrant seasonal farm workers play an essential role in our labor force, helping to put food on our tables and keeping our rural economy strong," said DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek. "These changes ensure important protections are in place, benefiting migrant seasonal farm workers and camp operators. We thank members of the Governor's Council on Migrant Labor and many other agencies and stakeholders for helping to inform the first substantive changes to the rules in some 17 years."
Key updates reflect knowledge gained when DWD promulgated emergency rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically the need for updated rules to address potential future public health emergencies. These new rules require certain diseases and symptoms to be reported to local health officials, and for sick workers to be isolated.
In addition, the rule provides heat and safety protections for workers including:
Certain changes that require physical modifications don't take effect immediately. Also, affected employers, migrant labor contractors and agents of employers have an opportunity to request a variance from certain requirements.
Last year, approximately 281 employers, migrant labor contractors or agents of employers were regulated under Chapter DWD 301. About 125 employers operated 261 migrant labor camps across Wisconsin. Employers, camp operators and migrant labor contractors are being notified of the changes this week.
The Governor's Council on Migrant Labor advises DWD on matters affecting migrant workers, ascertains working conditions of migrants, ensures coordination of federal and state statutes regarding migrant workers, and reviews rules submitted by the department. The Governor's Council on Migrant Labor consists of employer representatives, migrant representatives, and state legislators.
DWD engaged with key stakeholders in drafting the proposed rule through the Governor's Council on Migrant Labor, working closely with the Ad Hoc Committee on Migrant Seasonal Farmworkers, a subcommittee of the council. The subcommittee held three public meetings to review comments from committee members, other stakeholders, and the public regarding DWD's proposed changes to the rule.
DWD also consulted with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Department of Safety and Professional Services, and the Department of Natural Resources regarding the intersection of authority related to public health concerns, building inspection requirements, and pollution and water quality standards.
Visit the Services for Migrant Seasonal Farm Workers website for more information and resources for employers and workers.
Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.