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How to use piecework agreements

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Visual piecework agreement template

Use our Visual piecework agreement template (PDF 2.2MB) (DOCX 4.4MB) to help make a piecework agreement simply and easily under the Horticulture Award.

Our visual agreement template uses simple images and text to help employees, particularly those with low literacy, to better understand the rights and entitlements of a pieceworker under the award.

Understand how piecework agreements work under awards.

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Horticulture Award and piecework agreements

Under the Horticulture Award external-icon.png, 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 paid on the basis of how much an employee has individually picked, packed or pruned
  • paid to an employee instead of an hourly pay rate
  • a method of payment and 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. Employees can easily track their output using our Record My Hours app.

Piecework rates must be set at the time a piecework agreement is made. They must also be reviewed regularly. A piecework agreement must be made before work starts under the agreement.

Setting a piecework rate

To comply with the Horticulture Award, the piecework rate set has to enable 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, for the employee’s employment type and classification.

This means that the piecework rate must be set so that the hypothetical average competent employee would earn at least the above rate on the basis of that piecework rate.

The average competent employee is a hypothetical person who is an ordinary or typical competent employee. An employer needs to identify the average competent employee and their pick rate at the time the employer and employee enter into a piecework agreement.

A wide range of factors can affect what is the average competent employee at an enterprise at a particular time, including:

Crops

  • the type of crop involved – for example, crops that grow densely or in large quantities may be faster to pick or prune than crops that grow further apart or in smaller amounts
  • how much of the crop is unhealthy or bruised produce – fewer healthy items for the employee to pick, prune or pack may impact their ability to meet the piecework rate

Workforce and working conditions

  • the experience of the workforce available (or potentially available)
  • the growing conditions including control over environmental factors
  • and nature and quality of equipment provided – suitable equipment can make it easier to pick, prune or pack faster
  • any other tasks employees have to perform, as this will reduce the amount of time they can pick, prune or pack – for example, cleaning tasks or time spent removing smaller produce to allow other produce space to grow will impact on how long they have available to prune or pack. Any unpaid time on tasks such as cleaning should be included in the calculation of average pick rates.
  • whether any workers been able to earn 15% above their minimum hourly rate, and if yes, how often?

Business

  • when the business started operating as well as its size and setup
  • the number of units that all workers have picked, packed, pruned or made at a particular business or location over a period of time.

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.

If you are not sure whether the piece rates you are paying meet your obligations, you should pay your employees the appropriate hourly rate instead.

For more guidance about 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 their piecework agreement. The app can record the amount they picked, packed, pruned or made within a shift as well as keep track of shift times.

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Wine Award and piecework agreements

An employee can enter into a written agreement for piecework rates under the Wine Award external-icon.png. 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 set at the time a piecework agreement is made. They must also be reviewed regularly. A piecework agreement must be made before work starts under the agreement.

Under the Wine 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 Award as the factors listed above for the Horticulture Award.

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