Agricultural workers will get a pay rise from April 1, and their employers should make sure that they’re ready for the changes.
The new minimum pay levels for all grades of agricultural workers in Wales have been set by the Agricultural Advisory Panel for Wales, and approved by the Welsh Assembly.
Employment law expert Guy Hollebon said: “Employers should review what they pay staff to ensure that they are paid in accordance with the new higher rates.
“If staff work across the border, their employer should carefully consider whether the Welsh regulations or the National Minimum Wage applies to their workers and should record and document the reasons for their conclusion. Staff should also ensure that staff have clear contracts of employment to record which pay regime applies.
“Employers should be careful that they are compliant, otherwise they could face claims for backdated underpaid wages.”
The recent changes mean:
• The new rate for Grade 1 workers of compulsory school age (13-16) is £3.54 (an increase of 2%)
• The rate for Grade 1 workers aged 16 to 24 is now £7.70 (an increase of 4%) and Grade 1 workers aged 25+ will receive £8.21 (the largest increase of 5%)
• The rate for Grade 2 (qualified) workers has been raised by approximately 2% to £8.45
• The rates of Grades 3 to 6 workers have been raised by 2% and are now £8.70 (Grade 3 – qualified with experience), £9.36 (Grade 4 – qualified with greater experience), £9.88 (Grade 5 – Supervisors) and £10.64 (Grade 6 – Management) respectively.
There are also other slightly increased allowances which do not form part of the workers’ remuneration:
• a dog allowance of £8.17 per dog to be paid weekly where an agricultural worker is required by their employer to keep one or more dogs
• on-call allowance of a sum which is equivalent to twice the hourly overtime rate
• a night work allowance of £1.55 for each hour of night work
• a birth and adoption grant of £64.29 for each child.
There is also provision for time off, sick pay and overtime, which remains unchanged; agricultural workers must be paid for overtime at no less than 1.5 times the minimum pay rate.
Guy said: “We often work with clients whose land is split over the English and Welsh border, for whom there is often an issue of how the Welsh provisions apply to cross-border agricultural land. The policy of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Division of the Welsh Government and Defra has been that:
• For a business based in England whose workers may work in Wales on a limited ad hoc basis, National Minimum Wage (NMW) conditions will apply
• For a business based in Wales whose workers may work in England on a limited ad hoc basis, the rates applicable to Agricultural Wages in Wales apply.
“This advice is, of course, general and based on the assumption that workers are usually working in the country where the business is based.”
Employers are also reminded that the minimum employer’s contribution to auto-enrolment workplace pensions is increasing from 2% to 3% of qualifying earnings from 6 April 2019. The total minimum contribution from employers and employees combined is now 8%.