Regulations for Farmworker Housing in Pennsylvania during COVID-19

These rules apply to all seasonal farmworkers (and their roommates) who live in housing controlled by their employer. The following are a few pre-existing rules for this type of housing that may help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These rules are not the only ones, so if something seems dangerous or unsafe in your housing, please call us!

Keeping housing in clean and sanitary conditions helps prevent coronavirus from spreading. Your employer has to inform you in writing (and in your native language) of the rules and procedures that both the employer and workers will follow to keep the housing clean and in good condition.

The employer or landlord has to inform a local official from the Department of Health: 

  • if he suspects that any housing occupant has an infectious disease like coronavirus. 
  • if many tenants begin to get sick, exhibiting at least one of the following symptoms: fever, diarrhea, sore throat, vomiting, yellow pigmentation of the skin or eyes. (Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, among others....)

For bathrooms: 

  • In shared housing there should be:
    • at least 1 sink with hot water for every 6 people,
    • at least 2 toilets for each shared space, 
      • and at least 1 toilet for each 15 workers of the same gender. 
  • The bathrooms need to be cleaned daily. 
  • Independent apartments and housing need to have their own bathroom with a sink that has hot water. 
  • In any kind of housing...
    • toilets should be in rooms designated for only that purpose. o
    • the bathroom must have lighting and ventilation.
  • the bathroom has to be between 100 and 200 feet from the door to the bedrooms. 
  • Also, it should be at least 100 feet away from any place where food is prepared or eaten.
  • the employer or landlord must provide sufficient toilet paper.
  • the floors must be non-slip and easy to clean, and made of materials that do not absorb moisture.

For bathing, there should be: 

  • a shower head for every 10 people, with hot water,
    • or one tub, for every 6 people, with hot and cold water. 
  • walls high enough to prevent splashing. 
  • non-slip floors that are easy to clean and do not absorb moisture. 
  • a drain in the floor. 
  • a dry changing area next to the shared bathing area.

For cooking, there should be: 

  • sinks with normal water pressure and cold and hot water. 
  • light and ventilation. 
  • floors, ceilings, and walls that are non-slip and easy to clean. 
  • a trashcan with a tight lid that is leak-proof, corrosion-resistant, rustresistant, and made of a nonabsorbent material.
    • The trash should be emptied every time it is full and, at minimum, two times per week.

For laundry, there must be: 

  • either a laundry room with:
    • one washing machine with cold and hot water for every 30 people 
      • or two tubs 
      • or one sink with two basins,
    • non-slip floors that are easy to clean, o a drain in the floor; 
  • or transportation to a laundromat every week; 
  • or access to a laundry service. 
  • Apart from the laundry room, there should also be a slop sink to clean dirty clothes or boots.

For sleeping: 

Please note: To prevent the transmission of coronavirus, the CDC recommends a distance of at least 144 square feet per person, but the law only requires that dormitories have 50 square feet per person. 

  • In shared dormitories:
  • sheets and mattresses should always be clean and sanitary. 
  • the employer or landlord should establish a procedure and schedule for changing the sheets at least weekly or, if possible, more often. 
    • It is possible that the employer or landlord could assign some cleaning responsibilities to the workers. 
  • In single-family housing:
    • the employer or landlord has to provide clean sheets and mattresses.
    • after receiving sheets and mattresses from the employer, it is the tenants’ responsibility to keep them clean.

The Pennsylvania Farmworker Project provides free and confidential legal services to farmworkers who have employment law questions or cases. Call or text us for more information! 215.603.9548