Grower

From Stanthorpe to Manjimup to the Huon Valley, over 500 Australian growers are committed to producing the world’s highest quality apples and pears.

Labour & Employment

 

Very few businesses in the agricultural sector can operate without hiring outside help, and this is particularly true when it comes to the seasonal nature of apple and pear orchards. Managed successfully, your workforce can help drive profits and will be a source of competitive advantage, but it is easy to underestimate the complexity of workforce planning and management.

Planning ahead

Planning ahead

Before employing workers or outsourcing your hiring needs to a labour hire company, it is important to understand exactly what positions need to be filled and what skills will be required to perform the roles successfully. Think about:

  • Where the employee will work (in an office environment, on the orchard or elsewhere)
  • What tasks they will need to undertake (be as realistic and specific as possible)
  • Who they will report to
  • How their performance will be measured
  • How much they will be paid

Skillsets are evolving to keep pace with the spread of agricultural technology (AgTech). This means that a number of your workers will need to be technologically savvy in order to operate complex machinery or analyse and act upon the data made available through IoT sensors.

Planning ahead
Types of employment

Types of employment

Types of employment

Again, planning ahead is important in determining whether you need to hire a worker on a full-time, part-time or casual basis. Fair Work Australia provides the following definitions:

  • A full-time employee has ongoing employment and works, on average, around 38hours each week.
  • A part-time employee works, on average, less than 38 hours per week and usually works regular hours each week. They are a permanent employee or on a fixed-term contract.
  • A fixed-term contract employee is employed for a specific period of time or task.
  • A casual employee has no guaranteed hours of work and usually works irregular hours each week. They are paid casual loading (a higher pay rate than equivalent full-time or part-time employees) because they do not receive benefits such as sick or annual leave.

Seasonal farm workers

Seasonal farm workers

Seasonal farm workers are critical to harvest and play a pivotal role in the Australian horticultural industry, especially during peak periods when many growers rely on the assistance of labour hire contractors to source and administer their workforce needs. With recent labour figures indicating full employment in Victoria and NSW, labour shortfalls could threaten growers’ ability to pick and pack fruit. While there is not yet any such thing as a dedicated Agricultural Visa, the Seasonal Worker Program has proven effective in supplying orchards with workers.

Seasonal farm workers
Looking after workers

Looking after workers

Looking after workers

Growers have an obligation to look after seasonal workers in terms of payroll and living conditions. Protecting the rights of workers is essential to the future profitability and sustainability of Australian agriculture.

Although there has been some poor treatment in the past, most growers are responsible and compliant employers. Even isolated incidents of poor treatment of workers can damage the reputation of the entire industry and subsequently threaten the supply of seasonal workers.


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