Horticulture

If you're a worker in the horticulture industry, go to our Information for workers section.

Information for employers

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The horticulture industry is a key focus for us.

Our experience working with employers and employees in the sector has shown there's often confusion about employer obligations. This includes how to use piece rate agreements and a lack of understanding about grower’s obligations when using a labour hire service.

We've been working closely with businesses in the horticulture industry to raise awareness and increase compliance with workplace laws.

If you're an employer in the horticulture industry, find out:

What we've done

In 2018, we released our Harvest Trail Inquiry Report detailing our comprehensive inquiry into workplace arrangements in the horticulture sector. This came in response to employee and community concerns about non-compliance with Australian workplace laws within the industry.

Some of the discoveries we made from the 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 contributing to exploitation.

You can learn more about the Inquiry and our findings on the Harvest Trail Inquiry page.

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What we're doing

With an understanding of factors that contribute to non-compliance, we're working hard to improve compliance in the horticulture industry. We're doing this by:

  • working with key business owners and influencers in the industry to drive behavioural change
  • enhancing the regulatory framework
  • enhancing compliance through information, education and support for employers and employees.

We'll continue to maintain a key focus on the sector due to the high proportion of vulnerable workers employed, ongoing uncertainty concerning certain industrial instruments such as the application of piece rates and ongoing issues relating to Harvest Trail labour supply.

For a full outline of our plans, refer to the Harvest Trail Inquiry Report (DOCX 6.2MB) (PDF 9.7MB).

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Our advice & getting help

For employers in the horticulture sector, it's important to know your workplace obligations. Get our advice here on:

And complete our Checklist so you have all of our tools to help you.

Pay & piece rates

There are minimum entitlements that employees have to be paid based on the work they do.

Employees must be given a pay slip within 1 working day of being paid. As an employer, record-keeping is important to keep your business running smoothly. It’s also the law.

There are limited situations when an employer can take money from an employee's pay or require an employee to pay money. An employer can't pay the employee the correct pay rate and then make the employee give some of it back. They also can't apply unfair pressure to employees to spend their pay or own money.

If you are paying piece rates, there are some essential things to know. For the Horticulture Award, piecework agreements must be made between employer and employee and must set out the pay rate per piece and how it is measured.

What to do next

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Labour hire

What should growers know?

Engaging labourers through a third party contractor can seem like an easy option. However, there are risks that growers need to manage.

Contracting out labour for a very low price may result in employees throughout the supply chain missing out on basic rights like minimum wages, penalties, loadings, overtime, allowances and leave.

It may also mean the contractor is engaging in sham contracting arrangements to avoid their legal responsibilities as an employer.

If the price of a proposed contract seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Why should growers care about what happens in their supply chain?

Choosing the contractor who offers the lowest price without looking more closely and asking questions about how they can offer such low prices can:

  • damage a business’s reputation and the reputation of a whole growing region
  • expose growers to financial penalties if workplace laws are breached.

We are relying on growers and their communities to help us uncover rogue contractors and make sure they are following Australian workplace laws. Contact us to report rogue contractors.

What to do next

Labour hire checklist

Ask a potential labour hire contractor:

  • What is your ABN?
  • How are you hiring your workers?
  • How are you going to pay your employees?
    • How much?
    • How often?
    • Will you give them pay slips?
    • Do you know which award will cover them?

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Help with workplace issues

We're here to help you. Find out what we can help with, how we help and where to go if we can’t help at our Help resolving workplace issues page.

If you have a workplace issue, tell us about it via your My account. If you already have a My account with us, go to the enquiries form now.

What is My account?

My account is our free online portal that gives you the workplace help and advice you need. With My account, you can:

  • make an online enquiry about a workplace issue
  • use web chat to get instant advice
  • save pay, leave and other calculations
  • bookmark resources to help you.

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Checklist

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Recent changes to the Horticulture Award

On 2 April 2019, the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision external-icon.png to change the Horticulture Award. The decision changed the Horticulture Award for casual employees to include ordinary hours of work, a night loading and overtime entitlements. It also clarified the penalty rate for working on public holidays for casuals. The changes apply from the first full pay period on or after 15 April 2019.

Our Pay Calculator has been updated and can be used to calculate the overtime, night loading and public holiday penalty rates. To do this you need to select 'Show me pay rates as at 15 April 2019'.

The Horticulture Award has been updated to include the changes.

For information on how to apply the new rates, you can read our article Overtime & penalty rates for casuals in the Horticulture Award.

Our tailored information on Hours of work, When overtime applies and Working on a public holiday has also been updated.

Visit our Changes to the Horticulture Award page for more information

Information for workers

Fruit picking ... You have workplace rights banner

All employees working in Australia have rights and protections at work. This includes fruit pickers and other horticulture industry workers.

We're here to help you understand your rights while working in Australia. Our service is free.

Speak a language other than English? We have information in 30 different languages and an inbuilt website translator to help you. Select your preferred language from the drop-down menu, available at the top of the page.

Find out about:

To start, watch our short video about working in Australia:

 

 

Checklist: what to do before you start work in Australia

  1. Use our Find my award tool to find out which award you're covered by
  2. If you're paid by the hour, use our Pay Calculator to learn the minimum pay rates for your job
  3. If you're paid a piece rate, visit the Piece rates payments page to learn your entitlements
  4. Download our free Record My Hours app to keep track of your work hours
  5. Visit our Language help section if you need workplace information in your language

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Our tips for working in the horticulture industry

Be careful when finding work

Take the time to find an ethical and legitimate provider that pays correctly and doesn’t try to take advantage of you.

They must pay money for the work you do. Don’t accept offers of 'paid in-kind' (for example, with goods such as food).

Avoid work arrangements with people who meet you at regional airports or bus depots. You may be approached with promises of guaranteed work picking fruit or vegetables, along with accommodation and transport.

Know who you are working for

Don't respond to questionable advertisements where there is only a first name and a mobile phone number provided.

Legitimate providers will advertise for workers through more formal media such as newspapers or agencies.

Ask who you are working for - what is the business name and Australian Business Number (ABN)?

Know what you should be paid

For picking fruit or vegetables, or pruning, you should be paid at least $24.36 an hour if you’re working on a casual hourly basis.

If you’re on a piece work agreement your pay rate has to allow the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award, which works out to be $27.29 for a casual employee.

Use the industry filter on the Piece rates page to learn how piece rates are calculated.  

Keep your own work records

Pay slips are important for making sure you're being paid the correct wages and getting your employee entitlements.

You must be given a pay slip every time you are paid. Go to our Pay slips page to find out what should be included on yours.

Keep a record of the hours you work, the places you work and the type of work you are doing. Use a diary or download our free Record My Hours app. 

Graphic of a Record My Hours app logo
Record My Hours app

You can keep track of the number of hours you've worked easily with our Record my hours app

You can also record your piece rates and location of work

The app is available in 18 languages and is free to download from Google Play or the Apple App Store

Download our tips in Chinese:

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Pay

In Australia, there are minimum entitlements that employees have to be paid based on the work they do.

A pay slip must be given to you each time you get paid.

There are limited situations when an employer can take money from your pay or require you to pay money. An employer can't ask a job seeker to pay money just to receive a job offer. They also can't ask employees to pay money to keep their job.

Employees also have other minimum conditions at work such as sick leave and public holidays. These are set out either in an award, agreement or come from the National Employment Standards.

What to do next

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Understanding your award

Awards are legal documents that explain minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. They apply to employers and employees depending on the industry they work in and the type of job they do.

The Horticulture Award or Wine Industry Award covers most fruit pickers and piece workers in the horticulture industry.

What to do next

  • Use our Find my award tool to learn which award you're covered by

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Piece rates

A piece rate is where an employee gets paid by the piece.

This means the employee gets a pay rate for the amount picked, packed, pruned or made. Employees paid piece rates are paid by results instead of hourly pay rates.

An employee can enter into a written agreement to be paid pieceworker rates under the Horticulture Award or Wine Industry Award.

This agreement has to be genuinely made without coercion or duress and also must set out the pay rate per piece and how it is measured.

What to do next

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Help with workplace issues

We're here to help you. An employee can’t get into trouble or have their visa cancelled for contacting us to ask for information about their pay or other entitlements.

If you think a mistake has been about your pay or entitlements, visit Help resolving workplace issues for practical steps on how to fix the problem.

Or are you concerned someone isn't complying with workplace laws but don't want to get involved directly? Make an anonymous report in English or using our translated Anonymous report form, which is available in different languages.

If you're working in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Programme, visit our Seasonal Worker Programme page for more information.

Tell us about your workplace issue by making an online enquiry in My account. If you already have a My account with us, go to the enquiries form now.

What is My account?

My account is our free online portal that gives you the workplace help and advice you need. With My account, you can:

  • make an online enquiry about a workplace issue
  • use web chat to get instant advice
  • save your pay calculations
  • bookmark resources to help you.

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Tax & superannuation

The minimum pay rate is the gross pay (the amount of pay before tax is taken out). The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) gives advice about tax and superannuation.

You need to give your employer your Tax File Number (TFN) so that they do not have to take the highest rate of tax from your pay.

If you're a temporary resident working in Australia, your employer may also have to pay superannuation ('super') for you.

What to do next

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