29 CFR 780.331 - Crew leaders and labor contractors.
(a) Whether a crew leader or a labor contractor is the employer of the workers he supplies is a question of fact. The tests here are the same as those used to determine whether a sharecropper or tenant is an independent contractor. A crew leader who merely assembles a crew and brings them to the farm to be supervised and paid directly by the farmer, and who does the same work and receives the same pay as the crewmembers, is an employee of the farmer, and both he and his crew are counted as such and paid accordingly if the farmer is not exempt under the 500 man-day test. The situation is not significantly different if under the same circumstances, the crew is hired at so much per acre for their work. This is in effect a group piecework arrangement.
(b) The situation is different where the farmer only establishes the general manner for the work to be done. Where this is the case, the labor contractor is the employer of the workers if he makes the day-to-day decisions regarding the work and has an opportunity for profit or loss through his supervision of the crew and its output. As the employer, he has the authority to hire and fire the workers and direct them while working in the fields. Complaints by the farmer about the quality or quantity of the work or about a worker are made to the contractor or his representatives, who takes whatever action he deems appropriate. His opportunity for profit or loss comes from his control over the time and manner of performance of work by his crew and his authority to determine the wage rates paid to his workers.
(c) There is also the common and general practice of an individual who performs custom work such as crop dusting or grain harvesting and threshing or sheepshearing. In the typical case this contractor has a substantial investment in equipment and his business decisions and judgments materially affect his opportunity for profit or loss. In the overall picture, the contractor is not following the usual path of an employee, but that of an independent contractor.
For example: A sheepshearing contractor who operates in the following manner is considered an independent contractor and therefore an agricultural employer in his own right - he operates his own equipment including power supply from his own trucks or trailers, boards his shearing crew and has complete responsibility for their work and compensation, has complete charge of the sheep from the time they enter the shearing pen until they are shorn and turned out, and contracts with the rancher for the complete operation at an agreed rate per head.
(d) Whether or not a labor contractor or crew leader is found to be a bona fide independent contractor, his employees are considered jointly employed by him and the farmer who is using their labor if the farmer has the power to direct, control or supervise the work, or to determine the pay rates or method of payment. (Hodgson v. Okada (C.A. 10), 20 W.H. Cases 1107; Hodgson v. Griffin & Brand (C.A. 5) 20 W.H. Cases 1051; Mitchell v. Hertzke, 234 F. 2d 183, 12 W.H. Cases 877 (C.A. 10).) In a joint employment situation, the man-days of agricultural labor rendered are counted toward the man-days of such labor of each employer. Each employer is considered equally responsible for compliance with the Act. With respect to the recordkeeping regulations in 29 CFR 516.33, the employer who actually pays the employees will be considered primarily responsible for maintaining and preserving the records of hours worked and employees' earnings specified in paragraph (c) of § 516.33 of this chapter.