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In some ways, this summer is like any other. Crops rise in the fields, along with weeds. The days are hot and humid. In other ways, however, this summer is immeasurably different. One difference at the front of many peoples’ minds is the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

As an agricultural worker, you may have specific concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to know your rights and the resources available to you.

You have the right to a safe workplace and living area. Your employer should:

  • Increase the physical distance between workers to at least six feet at work and on transportation.
  • Arrange bunks or beds to be at least six feet apart.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in housing and in vehicles.
  • Provide sufficient sanitizing and hand washing supplies (hot water and soap) at housing and at worksites.
  • Ensure tools and equipment are routinely cleaned and disinfected.
  • Have designated areas with separate sleeping, cooking, toilet, and bathing facilities for quarantined workers.
  • Provide masks for all quarantined workers who develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

You have the right to raise concerns about health and safety conditions at work. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for raising health and safety concerns. If you think conditions at work are dangerous to your health: 

  • Tell your employer. Ask your employer to fix the dangerous conditions or ask to be assigned to other work.
  • You can file a health and safety complaint with the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Iowa OSHA). 

If your employer does not address your concerns and there is not time for Iowa OSHA to inspect and correct the problems, you have the right to refuse to work in a situation that exposes you to serious injury or death. If it is safe, stay at work until your employer tells you to go home.

If you get sick or injured, report it to your supervisor right away. Be sure to get medical care if you think it is an emergency.

You may be eligible for paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, or other benefits through your employer if you have to stop working due to COVID-19. If you are unable to continue 

working because you may have COVID-19 or may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, tell your employer.

If you are having a problem at work and would like legal advice, contact Iowa Legal Aid. We provide free and confidential civil legal services to agricultural workers. We can be reached by phone at 1 (800) 532-1503 extension 1301 or through WhatsApp at 1 (515) 446-8718. You can also find us on Facebook by searching “Farmworkers / Trabajadores Agrícolas de Iowa.”

This article is provided by Iowa Legal Aid. This article does not serve as a substitute for legal advice about your individual situation.

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