Employers who fail to pay the minimum wage are ‘named and shamed’.
Nobody wants to be publicly shown up for not complying with the law, so agricultural employers need to make sure that their workers are being paid the correct rate.
The rules changed on 1st October 2013 in England. This means that you may have some workers on the pay terms and condition under the last Agricultural Wages Order and others who are subject to the National Minimum Wage.
If a worker was employed before 1st October 2013, they retain the right to the Agricultural Minimum Wage if this is clearly specified in their contract. It’s very important to remember that you cannot oblige people to just accept contractual changes to their contract. If you do, it is likely you will face claims for constructive or unfair dismissal. To mitigate the risk of litigation, you should consult with the employee or, if applicable, their trade union or other employee representatives and get their consent. Contact us to discuss how best to go about varying a contract.
The National Minimum Wage increased on 1st April 2018, so make sure you are aware of the new rates coming into force. If you have seasonal workers who come back year after year, for example, you may have students who help pick fruit during their school holidays, make sure that you monitor their age to ensure that you are paying the correct rate.
In Wales, there is the Agricultural Wages (Wales) Order 2017, set by the Agricultural Advisory Panel. In this order, the minimum wage is set out according to grade and category.
Scotland and Northern Ireland
Similar arrangements are in place in Scotland, where the rates are laid down the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board and the Agricultural Wages Board for Northern Ireland sets the minimum pay rates for Northern Ireland.
Our Employment Law Advisers can provide you with guidance and support if you do wish to make changes to a contract and if you need help with pay and other terms and conditions.