On Wednesday, I received my daily email from the Capital Press, the weekly Ag newspaper for farmers in the Northwest. The headline caught my attention quickly, “Lawsuits challenge piece rate pay.” Piece rate pay has been an integral part of the Ag operation for years, and now the concept is under fire.

Dan Wheat, author of the article, states, “Piece rate refers to paying workers for how much fruit they pick instead of paying them by the hour. It’s been used for decades. Workers say they like it because they make more money. Growers like it because they say it’s the most economical pay method. They say the loss of it would increase their costs.”

Sounds like a win-win to me! So, what’s the problem? Everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, regardless of why a law is written, or how a law is written and interpreted, documentation is crucial for a grower when a problem arises.
Today, you might pay workers piece rate for harvest and pruning tasks. Next season, you might switch to only hourly to avoid risk of lawsuit. Then, the pendulum will steady itself back into the middle. Make sure to Implement a data collection system that captures more, rather than less, and utilize that information to drive worker efficiency and maintain detailed and thorough employee records.

When you have employee productivity data at your fingertips, you can identify problems early, recognize where additional training is needed, and motivate those who may need that extra push. Hourly plus piece wage bonus pay may be the way of the future. Workers will receive a fair wage and those deserving will be rewarded for their hard work. That still doesn’t let the farmer off the hook for improving record-keeping and documenting expectations and guidelines.

Prevent uncertainty and additional stress. Collect the information that could support your case and accommodate a variety of employee pay structures so your farm can stay nimble when the next labor law, or newest interpretation of the law, hits the headlines.

We listened to our customers' feedback. We agreed that there was a missing piece. How can a farm track hours for employees that start or finish tasks outside of normal business hours? How can a farm electronically record accurate check-in and check-out times for those workers performing activities far from the main office or facility? Now there is MobileClock.

Download MobileClock on any Android device. Enable MobileClock for one or multiple employees at your operation. Use either cellular or Wi-Fi to sync personal time clock information in real-time when FairTrak just isn’t enough. An beta version was released to a handful of customers for testing last month. So far so good!

It’s true. There are other mobile time clock apps available for download. We’ve spoken with customers using three different systems in order to accommodate all types of labor tracking activities and data collection in the field, packing house, and office. The benefits of our system? It can stand-alone or integrate with our other 2nd Sight hardware and software solutions so that you can track hours, pieces, containers, and weight. We are a one-stop shop, providing not only software, but hardware to keep up with the complex business of labor management on the farm, in the nursery, and in the greenhouse.

Looking for accurate labor costs and simple payroll for your operation? Add MobileClock to your 2nd Sight suite of data collection tools so you don’t lose a minute to outdated, incomplete, or complicated labor tracking systems.

A big thank you to our customers for another successful year! We’re happy to put another year in the books at 2nd Sight. If you can believe it, we’re gearing up for another busy 2019 season already.

In 2018, we released the FairPick Lite system to add even more data capture possibilities to weighing produce in the field. Internationally, we implemented our first FairTrak and FairPick Lite systems in Finland. We even created some buzz in the Netherlands with the release of the InstaCaliper electronic nursery caliper EU model.

Over the “off-season”, we have been busy reflecting on the successes of the year and implementing new software features. Every year, we gather feedback from our customers so that we can continue to meet the needs of the Ag industry. Our systems are designed for farmers, by farmer input. We continue to build our software to improve time-keeping, labor records, farm labor management, and provide the tools needed to effectively and efficiently track labor and product starting in the field.

A sneak-peak at new features you’ll see in 2019:

  • Improved flexibility to handle batch actions in the field
  • Enhanced employee section on the Portal
  • GPS notes feature
  • Improved break management including nonproductive, paid, and unpaid task types to ensure you have comprehensive break records.
  • Release of a new labor tracking app available for download on personal Android devices. Keep up with all your workers no matter where they are or what time they start the job.
  • Let 2nd Sight work with you to improve labor and data collection with software and hardware solutions that are flexible to fit your needs. You should know your operational costs and that begins with knowing your labor expenses. Utilize barcodes to improve your food safety traceability, as well.

Implementing a 2nd Sight system to improve tracking labor on the farm is another way you can move your operation forward in 2019. The 2nd Sight team looks forward to providing our current and new customers with our top-notch support that makes the difference as we're "Engineering Better Solutions for the Ag Industry."