Horticulture Award changes start today

The Fair Work Ombudsman is reminding horticulture employers that changes to the Horticulture Award commence today, including the new minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers.

In February 2022, the Fair Work Commission announced its final decision to make changes to the Award and that these would apply from the first full pay period starting on or after today.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said all growers and other employers were expected to meet their legal obligations to their employees.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman has published extensive new and updated resources on our website to help horticulture employers understand and comply with these award changes,” Ms Parker said.

“We encourage businesses to use these free, practical resources, which include a piecework arrangements employer checklist and templates for piecework records, timesheets and reconciliation.”

“Ensuring compliance in the horticulture industry continues to be a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman, and we urge employers and workers to reach out to us if they need advice or help.”

Minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers

The new minimum wage guarantee requires all pieceworkers to be paid at least the ‘hourly rate for the pieceworker’ multiplied by the number of hours worked, for each day that they worked. For example, under the Horticulture Award, the hourly rate for a casual adult level 1 employee is $25.41 per hour ($20.33 + 25% casual loading). If this employee works 7.6 hours per day, their minimum wage guarantee is $193.12 per day ($25.41 x 7.6) whether they have earnt that amount under a piecework record or not.

However, if the pieceworker would earn more than the minimum wage guarantee for the day based on the piece work rate and their productivity, they have to be paid the higher amount.

New piecework rules

The Award sets out new definitions for a ‘pieceworker competent at the piecework task’, the ‘average productivity of a pieceworker competent at the piecework task’ and ‘hourly rate for the pieceworker’.

Where piece rates are used, employers must fix the piece rate at an amount so that a pieceworker, working at the average productivity of a competent pieceworker, will earn at least 15 per cent more per hour than the minimum hourly rate for their classification level.

For example, the piece rate must allow an adult level 1 employee working at this average productivity to earn at least $23.38 per hour if they’re full-time or part-time, or at least $29.22 if they’re a casual.

New record-keeping obligations

Employers must now record the hours worked by all pieceworkers and the piece rates applied. New information is also required in the written piecework record pieceworkers receive before starting work.

Full details on all the changes and the new resources to help employers are available at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Horticulture Showcase.

The Fair Work Ombudsman enforces compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009, related legislation, awards and registered agreements and helps employers and employees by providing advice and education on pay rates and workplace conditions. The Fair Work Commission is the independent national workplace relations tribunal, responsible for maintaining a safety net of minimum wages and employment conditions, as well as a range of other workplace functions and regulation.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au, call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or a free interpreter service on 13 14 50. Concerns can also be reported anonymously – in your language.

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