Overtime for casuals
On 2 April 2019, the Fair Work Commission inserted overtime rates for casual employees into the Horticulture Award 2010.
The new requirement for casual employees to be paid overtime penalties will take effect from 15 April 2019. Employers must pay overtime rates under the Horticulture Award 2010 from the first full pay period that starts on or after that date.
Relevantly, the new clause provides that:
- ordinary hours for casual employees other than shift workers will not exceed 304 ordinary hours over an 8-week period provided that:
- ordinary hours for casual employees can be worked at any time
- each ordinary hour of work worked by a casual employee on any day of the week (excluding public holidays) between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm will be paid at their minimum hourly wage plus a 25% casual loading
- where a state or territory does not observe daylight saving, by agreement between an employer and a majority of affected casual employees, the ordinary hours can be moved forward one hour (4.00 am to 7.30 pm) during daylight saving
- each ordinary hour worked by a casual employee on any day of the week (excluding public holidays) between 8.31 pm and 4.59 am (or 7.31 pm and 3.59 am) will attract a loading of 15% of the employee’s minimum hourly wage for their classification (in addition to the casual loading of 25%)
- the maximum number of ordinary hours that a casual employee may work per engagement, or on any day, is 12 ordinary hours
- all time worked in excess of 12 hours per engagement, 12 hours in a single day or 304 ordinary hours over an eight-week period will be deemed overtime
- all hours worked by a casual employee on a public holiday (both ordinary hours and any overtime) will be paid at a rate of 225% of the employee’s minimum hourly wage for their classification (inclusive of the casual loading).
There will be no transition period for the implementation of this change as the Commission expressed the view that ‘the industry has been on notice of the intention to introduce overtime payments for employees covered by the Horticulture Award since mid-2017 … For this reason we consider that a transitional period is unnecessary.’
Federal Budget update
On 2 April 2019, the Federal Government handed down its 2019-2020 Budget. The Budget includes allocation of funds to a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme and names horticulture as a high risk sector for labour hire. More information about this can be found here.
The Budget also contained some interesting provisions for additional funding for other agriculture related programs.
Harvest Labour Services
The Budget included the allocation of just over $24 million across four years (commencing in 2019 2020) to reform Harvest Labour Services (HLS) and encourage more Australian jobseekers to take up seasonal harvest jobs. This expansion includes:
- increasing the number of HLS regions from 11 to 16 rural and remote regions where there is a demand for workers
- improving the Harvest Trail website, including the provision of more information about job opportunities and services
- incentivising HLS providers to place Australian jobseekers into seasonal work.
Seasonal Worker Programme
The Budget also provides $2.9 million over two years to implement a 12-month pilot program to improve small farmers’ access to workers through the existing Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP). The pilot will simplify SWP requirements, making it easier and quicker for labour hire approved employers under the SWP to recruit and move seasonal workers between smaller farms.
This programme includes $1.6 million for the Fair Work Ombudsman to increase education, monitoring and investigation activities relating to SWP employers participating in the pilot.