On 3 November 2021, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision that will have significant implications for the horticulture industry.
The application was made by the Australian Workers’ Union (“AWU”) to vary the piecework provisions in clause 15.2 of the Horticulture Award 2020 (“Award”).
The AWU’s application was approved on the following basis:
- to introduce the concept of a floor of wages whereby all employees including pieceworkers must be paid not less than the minimum hourly rates of pay in the Award, regardless of their individual levels of competency and productivity; and
- to require that employers record hours of work performed by employees under piecework agreements, something which is not presently required under either the Award or the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
The application has only been provisionally approved with further submissions lodged by 26 November 2021 being considered. However, it is anticipated that the variation to the Award will come into effect in early 2022 subject to any changes as a result of the submissions.
The decision means that employers must record and pay for the hours of work of all employees and will need to be more proactive in terms of managing their labour practices and costs base.
If you are an employer in the horticulture industry and would like some advice in reviewing your labour practices moving forward to accommodate these changes, including drafting of employment contracts, please contact us on 1300 068 736.
This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in brief and general terms and should be viewed as broad guidance only. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render advice. No one should rely on the information contained in this publication without first obtaining professional advice relevant to their own specific situation.