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Horticulture Award changes now in effect

The Fair Work Ombudsman is reminding horticulture businesses of the changes to the Horticulture Award that have taken effect on 28 April, including the new minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers.

These changes to the Horticultural Award apply from the first full pay period starting on or after the day the changes took effect.

“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,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra 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.”

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 per cent 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 earned 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.

“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,” Parker added.

The Award has also set 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.

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.

This story originally appeared in our sister publication, Inside Small Business.

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