Harvest Trail Inquiry

Learn about our campaign and inquiry to help employers and employees on the Harvest trail understand their rights and meet their obligations under Australian workplace laws.

About the Harvest Trail

Every year, seasonal harvest workers follow the ‘Harvest Trail’ of ripening fruit, vegetables and other crops around Australia. From January grape picking in the Hunter Valley to autumn apples in Tasmania, October mangoes in the Northern Territory and cherries at Christmas time, the horticulture and viticulture industries employ many travellers and seasoned harvesters.

The horticulture sector is key area of focus for FWO. Our experience of working with employers and employees in the horticulture industry has shown there is often:

  • confusion about employer obligations, including how to use piecework records
  • a lack of understanding about grower’s obligations when using a labour hire service.

Harvest Trail Inquiry Report

Our Harvest Trail Inquiry started in August 2013. We focused on visiting and revisiting Harvest Trail regions to help employers and employees understand their workplace rights and obligations.

We looked at issues such as:

  • minimum wages and conditions, including piece rates
  • record keeping and pay slips
  • labour hire and supply chain issues.

Some of the discoveries we made during our Harvest Trail Inquiry include:

  • misuse of piece rates
  • a negative impact where labour hire arrangements were used illegally
  • low consumer awareness and unwillingness to pay more for ‘domestic fair trade’ produce contributes to exploitation.

The Harvest Trail Inquiry Report details our efforts and what we found out during this period.

Download the full Harvest Trail Inquiry Report

Where we went

During the inquiry, we visited businesses across Australia. These visits were in response to intelligence such as requests for assistance and anonymous tip-offs.

Download the list of locations visited.

What we did

Read about some of the work completed as part of the Harvest Trail Campaign and Inquiry:

Tools and resources

Help for small business

  • Contact the small business helpline for quick and easy access to our advisers and workplace relations information. Call the helpline on 13 13 94 and press option 3.
  • Find tools, resources and information you might need in our Small Business Showcase.
  • Our Employer Advisory Service (EAS) gives eligible small businesses free tailored written advice on pay and entitlement issues. Learn more about this service at Employer Advisory Service – overview.