Rural Edge has compiled the below information to assist employers during the tight labour market, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This information is general in nature and please seek professional advice to ensure you know the employment obligations for your individual circumstance and business structure.

For specific guidance, templates and tools, we recommend completing the Being a Better Boss (IR): Legal Obligations for Farmers Workshop which is also now available Online.

GETTING STARTED WITH SOME BASICS:

Below we have detailed the common rates of pay for the agricultural industry. It’s important to note that the Rates of Pay for your employees will depend on the “Award” your business falls under: The Federal Award (National System) OR WA State Award.

FEDERAL AWARD OR “NATIONAL SYSTEM”

  • Commonly recognised at Propriety Limited Companies,
  • Usually registered with ASIC and have an ACN
  • Trusts with a company trustee

WA STATE AWARD

  • Sole Traders
  • Partnerships
  • Unincorporated Trust Arrangements

PASTORAL AWARD

The minimum adult casual hourly rate is currently $24.36* per hour under the Pastoral Award.

Key Things to Note:

  • Overtime rates apply after the first 38 hours
  • A lower hourly rate may apply for juniors
  • A lower rate may apply if accommodation and meals are provided as outlined in the award.
  • This is the minimum (Level.1) rate and higher rates apply for experienced or higher skilled roles.

See the Full Pay Guide for more details.

FARM EMPLOYEES AWARD

The minimum adult casual hourly rate is currently $23.59* per hour under the  Farm Employees Award.

Key Things to Note:

  • Employees are required to be paid the hourly rate listed in the award for each hour work in excess for 38 hours per week.
  • A lower hourly rate may apply for juniors
  • If an employee is provided with board and lodging including food an employer is allowed to make a deduction of $45.60 per week.

See the Full Guide for more details.

HORTICULTURAL AWARD

The minimum adult casual hourly rate is currently $24.36* per hour under the Horticultural Award.

A piecework rate can be used to pay employee on the amount an individual has picked, packed or pruned- as long as an ‘average competent employee’ to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate. 

Key Things to Note:

  • Overtime rates apply after the first 38 hours
  • A lower hourly rate may apply for juniors
  • This is the minimum (Level.1) rate and higher rates apply for experienced or higher skilled roles.
  • Piecework agreements must be in writing prior to commencement of work.
  • An employer will be required to identify the average competent employee and their pick rate at the time the piecework agreement is entered into.  

See the Full Pay Guide for more details.

FRUIT GROWING AND FRUIT PACKING INDUSTRY AWARD

The minimum adult casual hourly rate is currently $23.59* per hour for fruit packing and sorting and $23.59 for fruit growing and picking under the Fruit Growing and Fruit Packing Industry Award.

Key Thing to Note:

  • A lower hourly rate may apply for juniors
  • Piecework agreements must be in writing prior to commencement of work.
  • An employer will be required to identify the average competent employee and their pick rate at the time the piecework agreement is entered into.  

See the Full Guide for more details.

*If you pay flat rates or differ to the award, you may need to have employment contracts and Individual Flexibility Agreements in place and ensure you satisfy the Better Off Overall Test.

To learn more, meet your legal obligations and have access to templates and tools, sign up to Rural Edge’s “Being a Better Boss (IR): Legal Obligations for Farmers” Workshop.

What other farmers have said about the workshop:

“It’s a must for anyone employing staff

Gives you the confidence to implement correct contracts and terminology for your workers”

The day was excellent. We had made efforts to comply with our requirements as employers however the course made us aware of gaps in our knowledge and current contracts”

It’s very difficult to find this information elsewhere. Also good suggestions of how to implement these obligations”