Horticulture Showcase

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Back to Pay & piecework rates

How to use piecework agreements

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Piecework agreements under the Horticulture Award

Under the Horticulture Award an employer and employee can enter into an agreement for the employee to be paid a piecework rate. A piecework rate is a rate of pay on the basis of an amount an employee has individually picked, packed or pruned. It is paid instead of an hourly rate. Piecework is a method of payment, not a type of employment. Pieceworkers are still full-time, part-time or casual employees.

What agreements need to cover

To comply with the Horticulture Award, a piecework agreement must:

  • be in writing and signed by the employer and employee
  • be made without coercion or duress
  • set out the piecework rate
  • be kept by the employer and a copy given to the employee.

Growers can’t ask workers to overload buckets or pick bad produce for free.

Individual piecework agreements

There has to be a separate piecework agreement for each individual employee being paid a piecework rate.

A piecework rate is based on individual effort only, not group effort. A grower has to be able to determine the output of each individual employee, such as the number of kilograms or bins of produce picked. Output can easily be tracked using our free Record My Hours app.

Piecework rates must be regularly reviewed.

Setting a piecework rate

The piecework rate has to allow the ‘average competent employee’ to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the Horticulture Award at the time the piecework agreement is entered into.

To assess if the piecework rate enables the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the minimum hourly rate, an employer will be required to identify the average competent employee and their pick rate at the time the piecework agreement is entered into.

This requires a range of factors to be considered including:

  • the experience of the workforce available or potentially available
  • the type of crop involved
  • conditions of work including the growing conditions and nature and quality of equipment provided
  • when the business started operating as well as its size and setup
  • how many units have been picked by all workers at a particular enterprise/location over a period of time?
  • have any workers been able to earn 15% above their minimum hourly rate, and if yes, how often?

There is no standard piecework rate across the horticulture industry or within particular parts of the industry or locations. It can be different between properties with the same crop type and location. It can even be different on the same property at different times.

For more detail on creating a piecework agreement, use our Horticulture piecework agreement assessment guide.

Piecework agreement templates and tools

To build a piecework agreement, use our Piecework agreement template.

Employees can also use our free Record My Hours app to record information about piecework arrangements. The app can record the number of pieces achieved within a shift as well as keep track of shift times.

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Piecework agreements under the Wine Award

An employee can enter into a written agreement for piecework rates under the Wine Industry Award. This agreement has to be made without coercion or duress. It also must set out the piecework rate.

As with the Horticulture Award, there has to be a separate piecework agreement for each individual employee being paid a piecework rate. A piecework rate is based on individual effort only, not group effort. A grower has to be able to determine each individual employee’s output. This can be tracked using our free Record My Hours app. Piecework rates must be regularly reviewed

Under the Wine Industry Award, the piecework rate has to allow the employee of average capacity to earn at least 20% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award.

A similar range of factors will usually be considered in identifying the employee of average capacity for the Wine Industry Award as the factors listed above for the Horticulture Award.

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