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Patrick Zelaya

Founder at HeavyConnect


We founded HeavyConnect to simplify farming operations using mobile app technology. I write weekly blog posts about questions facing global farmers. Join the many of Ag professionals receiving these blog posts by email.

Last summer, one of our clients asked us to build a mobile app around food safety checklists. They were preparing for the FDA “Produce Safety Rule”. The Produce Safety Rule is a new set of regulatory requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

As of 1/26/2018, large growers are required to comply with these new regulations. Our client was looking for a way to document their food safety practices in their field operations, but didn’t want to use paper checklists anymore.

We mapped out their current process and decided the HeavyConnect app could reduce the workflow of documentation from 8 steps to 2. By following the feature requests of our clients, who are experts in food safety, we were able to add some bonus features like corrective action management and data analytics.

We began this journey with a fundamental understanding of the food safety industry, relying heavily on the expertise of our clients and industry partners like AgSafe. Along the way we gained a deep appreciation for the specialists in the field of food safety. Their dedication to continuous research and their disciplined approach to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) are the reason why our food systems are the most safe and secure in the world.

What follows in this blog series is the continuation of my journey into the world of food safety. Each week I will share my experiences and learnings and hope that you will join me in becoming part of the food safety community.


Patrick Zelaya

The Explicit Cost of Time

This week a well-respected Farm Labor Contractor (FLC) in Southern California’s grape growing region was fined $647,000 for delayed payment to their 1,374 farmworkers. The fine is a result of California Labor Code section 2810.3 which outlines an employer’s responsibility to pay end-of-season wages to farmworkers on their last day of work. The amount of the fine is determined by taking the employee’s average daily pay and multiplying it by the number of days the employee had to wait for their paycheck.

To illustrate the calculation of the fine, consider a daily wage of slightly over minimum wage, or $100/day. The fine in this week’s case represents a delay of approximately 5 days. This means wages for a work week ending on Saturday would have been paid the following Thursday.

If we consider a hypothetical employer who gives their payroll staff Sunday off, the payroll team would have processed 1,374 timecards in 3 working days or 24 hours. This equates to processing 57 timecards per hour or 1 timecard every 63 seconds.

Our example represents 1 workday of the week. An employer with 1,374 workers would need a payroll staff or 5-6 to process the entire work week at a pace of 57 timecards per hour in 3 days.

In California, a payroll team must make several calculations when processing payroll (piece-rate, non-productive time (AB1513), etc.) to ensure accurate payment to its employees. If the calculated payroll has errors, the employer risks facing worker lawsuits or penalties imposed by the Department of Labor. This is known among the industry to create considerable stress and anxiety for the payroll team. The news this week amplifies this effect.

Mistakes are most common when processing harvest payroll from paper timesheets. Using a simple mobile app to accurately capture payroll data in the field can reduce the payroll team’s stress and significantly reduce the time it takes to process weekly payroll.