Effective labor and employment compliance is crucial for both the success of your cannabis farm and the satisfaction of your employees. This sample checklist is provided to help you set your employees up for success in this specialized sector while adhering to legal and operational requirements.

Labor Compliance: Required Posters and Notifications

  • Display required posters and notifications. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) requires employers to display certain posters in places that are clearly visible to all workers. For a checklist and compilation of the current posters that must be displayed, visit the Department of Labor Posters for the Agricultural Workplace: https://dol.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2023/09/aglp_3_posters2023.pdf


New Employee Paperwork

  • W-4. Federal employee income tax withholding form. For more information visit: irs.gov.
  • NYS Tax Form (IT-2104). New York State employee income tax withholding form. For more information visit: tax.ny.gov/forms/withholding_cur_forms.htm.
  • I-9 Form. After employee completes Section 1, verify new employee identification and authorization to work as soon as possible (no later than day 3 of employment). For more information visit: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9.
  • Employee Handbook. Office of Cannabis Management’s (OCM) regulations require licensees to prepare and maintain an Employee Handbook. A sample table of contents of an Employee Handbook focused on NYS and Federal laws can be found on the Cannabis Workforce Initiative website: https://cannabisworkforce.org/employee-handbook-sample-table-of-contents. OCM relevant regulations on Employee Handbook can be found here on page 275: https://cannabis.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2023/09/exprs-trms-adopt-au-regs-9-12_0.pdf. Make sure the employee signs an acknowledgment that they received a copy of the handbook.
  • Pay Notice. Review the “Pay Notice and Work Acknowledgment” with each new employee. New York law requires that all the information in Form LS 309 be filled out by the employer and shared, in writing, with the employee in a language they can understand. Form LS 309 is available on the NYSDOL website in multiple languages. See the NYS Department of Labor site for more details under “Wage Theft Prevention Act”: https://dol.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2022/05/p715.pdf. You can also use LS309 to clarify if the position is eligible for overtime pay and subject to day-of-rest requirements.
  • Collect Employee Contact Information. Name, address, phone number and emergency contact name and phone number.
  • Additional Forms. Ensure employee completes any additional forms relating to specific farm practices, certifications, and OCM requirements.
  • Identification Badge. All employees working on the farm must be issued an identification badge which has to include employee’s first and last name; employee photograph; licensee’s legal name; and licensee’s license number issued by OCM.


Employee Orientation: New and Current Employees

  • Mission. Share the mission or vision that guides your farm. Share important values and aspects of your business culture that your new employee should know and appreciate.
  • Organizational Chart
  1. Who is your employee’s direct supervisor?
  2. What other positions should they know about?
  3. Who should they go to for help or questions? Emphasize that questions are always welcome, and you are always interested in safety first.
  • Facility Overview. Give your employee an orientation tour of the facility.
  1. Provide a map with the location and name of buildings.
  2. Identify location of important safety resources:
    1. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
    2. Fire extinguishers
    3. Safety data sheets (SDS)
  3. Eye wash stations
  4. Emergency contact numbers
  5. Location of equipment operation manuals
  1. Obtain signed consent forms if employee involved in the application of chemicals or other potentially hazardous materials.
  2. Review security and emergency measures in accordance with Security Plan.
  3. Where is the bathroom? There are specific regulations for providing bathroom facilities to workers in the fields. (See “field sanitation” on page 14 of “A Farmer’s Guide to the New York Department of Labor.” https://dol.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/07/p130.pdf)
  4. Where should anemployee park?
  5. Where should an employee store their lunch? And take a break?
  6. Where should an employee access safe drinking water?


  • Job Description. Share a clear description of your employee’s job.
    1. What are their most important duties or tasks?
    2. How will they learn their duties or tasks?
    3. How will their performance be measured and supervised?


  • Time Recording
    1. How should your employee track the hours that he/she/they work(s)?
    2. Is employee eligible for overtime pay? In New York, most farm employees are eligible for overtime pay after they have worked 56 hours in a calendar week. (See “A Farmer’s Guide to the New York Department of Labor” for more details.)
    3. What should an employee do if they believe an error was made in time recording or payroll?
    4. How should your employee request time off? What is the approval process for:
      1. Vacation
      2. Cultivators are required to provide New York’s disability benefits (DB) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) insurance coverage to eligible employees. See New York Paid Family Leave website for employer requirements https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/
      3. Appointments such as the doctor?

  • Employee Discipline. Review your policy and procedures for progressive employee discipline. Be sure to cover actions that can lead to immediate termination such as harassment, stealing, fighting, etc.


Safety and Health

  • Safety Culture. Share your farm’s safety expectations. It is important for your employee to work safely both to protect himself/herself and to protect others.
  • Security and Emergencies. Review security and emergency measures in accordance with your Security Plan.
  • Complete Safety Trainings. See “Training” below.
  • Safety Posters. Share location of specific safety posters and signage. Warning signs must be posted in all areas of potential hazard.
  • Drug, Smoking, and Alcohol Policies. Review your written alcohol and drug policy. All licensees must maintain an alcohol-free, and drug-free, and smoke-free workplace policy.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
    1. Train your new employee in what PPE to wear and when.
    2. Provide fit testing for each employee who must wear safety equipment to prevent inhalation of harmful airborne substances. Provide other tasks for the worker until fit testing is done. Contact New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) for options https://www.nycamh.org/.
  • First Aid. Someone onsite must be trained in First Aid and CPR. Well stocked first aid kits must be readily available in all operational areas.

Employee Benefits

  1. Meals and Breaks. Share your policy for meal and rest breaks during the workday.
    1. New York requires a 30-minute, unpaid meal for employees working a shift of 6 hours or more. Generally, a day shift must take the meal between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Night and swing shifts take the meal somewhere in the middle of the shift. (See: “meal periods” on pages 13-14 of “A Farmer’s Guide to the New York Department of Labor.” https://dol.ny.gov/services-agricultural-employers-0)
    2. No work is permitted during the unpaid meal.
  1. Housing. Tell the employee about the housing that he/she/they will be provided by the farm, if applicable. It’s critical to take time to train the employee about housing and set expectations for cleaning and maintenance. See https://agworkforce.cals.cornell.edu/human-resource-management/worker-housing/ for more resources.
    1. Orientation Guide for Occupants of Farm Housing, English, Spanish.
    2. Inspect and prepare housing before a new employee moves in.
    3. Consider providing fresh sheets, toiletries, pantry staples, etc. for each new employee
  2. Worker’s Compensation. Inform your employee that worker’s compensation is available to cover any work-related injuries or illness. It is critical to notify a supervisor right away if a work-related injury or illness occurs.


Employee Training

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

    1. Which SOPs will your new employee need/use?
    2. Are the SOPs up to date and available in the workplace?


  1. Plan for what your employee needs to learn and how you will teach it.
  2. Prepare needed training materials.
  3. Identify who will be responsible for training your new and/or existing employees.
  4. Train your employee using the Tell-Show-Do-Review method. Tell your employee how to do the task. Show them how to do the task with your own hands. Let them do the task while you watch. Review how they did by praising what they did well and correcting the parts they didn’t do correctly, repeat as needed.
  5. Finally, take a few minutes to evaluate the overall training process to make sure the employee learned what they need and that your training was effective.
  6. Evaluate how well your employee learned the content.
  7. Complete OCM Required Trainings. For more information, contact the Office of Cannabis Management at licensing@ocm.ny.gov:
    1. Safety and Hygiene Training
    2. Responsible Workforce Training – must be completed within 30 days and must include:
      1. Cannabis Product Safety and Responsibility course
      2. Cannabis Workforce Responsibility course
      3. Implicit Bias or Cultural Competency Training (must be at least 1 hr.)
      4. At least two hours of other training intended to assist employees in conducting their job duties in a safe manner
    • Hazard Communication Training which must include:
      1. Explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and workplace labeling system used by employer
      2. Safety Data Sheets – including how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information
      3. Proper use of chemicals or material that require use of a respirator