Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is the
Commonwealth Regulator that promotes and enforces minimum wages and
conditions for employees.
Agribusiness has long been an area of focus for the FWO. Reasons
for this include:
the labour requirements in agribusiness are inherently
seasonal, which attract employees who may only work seasonally or
for a 417 holiday working visa to be approved for a second
year, the worker must work in a regional area for 88 days, in a
limited range of industries (one of which is plant and animal
Agribusiness employers should be aware that they may be affected
by three separate monitoring and compliance projects which the FWO
is currently undertaking.
Review of Working Holiday workers
On 4 August 2014, the FWO announced its Overseas Workers Team
(OWT) will conduct a review of the wages and
conditions of overseas workers who hold the 417 Working Holiday
Visa. This will involve the FWO conducting field visits in the
The Harvest Trail project is conducted by regional FWO offices
and will run for three years. Inspectors will visit farms in
regional areas and correspond with stakeholders to collect
information. FWO inspectors made unannounced visits to apple and
pear orchards in regional New South Wales, Victoria and Western
Australia earlier this year.
National Fruit and Vegetable Picking Campaign
In July 2014, the FWO commenced a national campaign specifically
targeting fruit and vegetable picking.
The teams involved with this campaign operate differently to the
regional inspectorate in the Harvest Trail project.
What should agribusiness employers do to protect
The implication of these three projects for agribusiness
employers is a need to comply with both employment and migration
legislation. As an agribusiness employer, you should ensure
all employment, leave and payroll records are up-to-date
you are compliant with the minimum wages and conditions in the
Fair Work Act 2009 and relevant award (such as the Horticulture
Award 2010 and the Pastoral Award 2010)
your workers have appropriate work rights (if they are not
Australian citizens or permanent residents).
Businesses that are non-compliant may be issued with
infringement notices or, in more serious cases, prosecution in the
Federal Circuit Court where maximum penalties of $51,000 (per
breach) for companies and $10,200 (per breach) for individuals
apply under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Penalties also apply under the Migration Act 1958 where
employers have engaged overseas workers who do not an appropriate
visa, or engage in work which is contrary to their visa
This publication does not deal with every important topic or
change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute
for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's
specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of
interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice
relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named
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