In a number of countries and states, labour regulations require employers to pay minimum wage rates. This can often be challenging when dealing with industries such as apple and cherry growing, where employees, or farm workers, are paid for the volume of work they do, versus the hours they work.
In fact, some in the industry would say that minimum wage regulations go directly against the motivation ethos of paying by piece rate, where those who perform well, earn high, and those that don’t, earn low. There is some concern that imposing these minimum wage conditions will lead to significant cost increases for growers, reduced work opportunities for pickers, and a huge increase in administration time required.
Regardless of any opinion, when regulation occurs, action to comply is critical.
The Australian Example
Australia is one of the latest countries to experience the introduction of new fair work rules involving piece rate workers and minimum wage awards.
From April 2022, Australia’s regulators are requiring that fruit pickers on piece rate must be guaranteed a minimum wage as per the Horticulture Award.
The new regulation also requires employers to keep clear records of hours worked by pieceworkers.
In practice, this means that employers of pieceworkers need to:
- Record every hour worked by piece rate workers
- Record all of the piece rate work a worker performs
- Review those details for every worker and calculate how many hours they have worked and how much they have earned for piece work they have done
- Assess whether what each worker has earned, meets or exceeds the minimum wage amount
- Pay the worker the higher amount if their piece rate work exceeds the minimum wage guarantee
- Or if there is a shortfall between what they’ve earned on piece rate, and what the minimum wage guarantee is, employers must calculate the top up required to meet the minimum wage guarantee, and pay this top up to workers
Phew… That sounds painful!
Experience To Support Your Success
Hectre supports the success of fruit growers all around the world and has tackled minimum wage regulations in other countries already, and has developed simple to use systems to take care of the issue.
The Hectre Orchard Management App digitally records all workers who are clocked in, captures the hours they work, the jobs they do, the pieces of work they complete (how many bins they fill etc) and then automatically calculates how much they’ve earned on piece rate, compares this against any minimum wage rates and where necessary, identifies that a top up is needed and calculates this amount as well.
All of this information is captured in the field and flows all the way through to the simple to view payroll reports on the Hectre dashboard, ready for payroll.
Records for Regulation
The Hectre app captures all hours worked by employees and all piece rate volumes, ensuring you’ve got great records that are easy to view. Super helpful for audits.
A Growers Perspective
Brad Fankhauser, General Manager at Fankhauser Apples, shares how Hectre is helping to support his success:
“We’ve been using the Hectre Orchard Management App since 2016. Hectre captures all of the hours worked by our employees, so we’ve already got the recording side of things sorted. The app automatically calculates whether minimum wage requirements have been met. If an employee hasn’t met minimum wage, Hectre will use algorithms to automatically calculate the top up amount required for that employee. This will be highlighted in the payroll reports. So if we ever had someone not meeting minimum wage through their performance, we would be able to identify this easily and address it.”
Avoid Grey Hairs And Reduce Your Admin Burden
If you’re needing to deal with minimum wage regulations, and would like to learn more about how Hectre’s award winning, simple to use orchard management app, can help save you from admin nightmares, contact our friendly team for a free, no obligation, 45 minute zoom consultation.