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New hourly rate guarantee for horticulture workers

by | Mar 16, 2022 | Fair Work, News, Wage Obligations

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Piecework is where employees are paid on the basis of the quantity of work that they do as reflected in for example the number of garments sewn in clothing trades or the quantity of fruit or vegetables picked in the horticultural industry.

Under the Horticulture Award 2020, workers can be paid on a piece rate basis which “must enable the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the minimum hourly rate prescribed in this award for the type of employment and the classification level of the employee”.

The Award (as it stands today) states: “Nothing in this award guarantees an employee on a piecework rate will earn at least the minimum ordinary time weekly rate or hourly rate in this award for the type of employment and the classification level of the employee, as the employee’s earnings are contingent on their productivity.” So, the Award clearly recognises the potential for workers with lower productivity levels to be paid below Award hourly rates.

However, on 28 April 2022, that is all going to change because the Fair Work Commission has decided that all horticulture workers have to be paid at least the equivalent of the ordinary hourly rate for all hours that they work.

Employers who are paying workers on a piece rate, have to maintain records of hours of work and ensure that what they each earns equates to at least the ordinary hourly rate for the classification in which they are employed for all hours worked on any day.

They also have to provide pieceworkers with a written pieceworker agreement before they commence employment. That agreement has to include: 

  • when (date and time) the piecework is to start 
  • a description of the task or tasks for which piece rates will be paid 
  • the piece rate amount 
  • the minimum hourly rate for the pieceworker’s classification level (plus, for casual pieceworkers, the 25% loading)
  • the following statement: “Under the Horticulture Award 2020, a pieceworker must be paid for each day on which they work, no less than their hourly rate under the award (including the 25% casual loading for a casual pieceworker) multiplied by the number of hours worked on that day.”

More detailed information can be accessed from the Fair Work Ombudsman @ https://www.fairwork.gov.au/newsroom/news/new-minimum-hourly-wage-guarantee-pieceworkers#main-changes.

If you need a hand in working out how to comply with the new rules, give us a call on 0438 533 311. Take advantage of our first free consultation offer.

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