By Growcom CEO David Thomson
As the weather heats up so does the summer harvest season and with it comes an urgent need for loyal seasonal workers.
Unfortunately changes made to the Horticulture Award earlier this year, including a requirement to pay penalty rates for overtime, have created a nightmare for Australian horticulture growers who are now struggling to meet the rising costs of employing pickers and packers.
With no choice but to carefully monitor and manage overtime payments for their casual workers, growers are facing an administrative burden that, for some, has become too much to handle.
As a result, approximately 30% of growers have elected to outsource their employment administration to labour hire companies, according to a national survey led by Growcom into the impacts of changes to the Horticulture Award.
This comes at a time when the labour hire industry is itself under the microscope.
The Queensland Government last week announced a further three prosecutions for offences under the Labour Hire Licensing Act against a labour hire company, its sole director, and the operators of a strawberry farm.
The labour hire company was fined for operating without a licence, its sole director was convicted for counselling, procuring or aiding the commission of the offence and the strawberry farm was found guilty for entering into an arrangement with the unlicensed labour hire company.
The Government has been vigilant, weeding out more than 350 operators deemed not up to scratch since the new labour hire licensing laws were introduced 18 months ago.
It’s important that when outsourcing their employment arrangements growers do their due diligence and ensure their preferred labour hire company is licenced.
Failure to do so could mean they end up on the wrong side of the law. And that’s the last thing growers need when all they’re trying to do is simplify their lives.