Agricultural Workers’ Rights: What’s the Correct Level of Pay?

Year Published: 2021

Agricultural workers’ rights and pay in the agricultural sector can often leave many employers confused and unaware of the complex provisions. Keeping up to date with employment legislation can be vital to ensure you are not caught out. Particularly when the government typically introduces new legislation each spring.

What Are Agricultural Workers’ Rights?

Firstly, the rates are different in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and each has its own methods for calculating pay. Some of which includes; age, start date and responsibilities, qualifications and duties.

Starting with England, agriculture workers must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (“NMW”) or National Living Wage (“NLW”).

The applicable rates for the NLW and the NWM from 1 April 2021 are as follows:

Year                 23 and over    21-22   18-20   Under 18         Apprentice
April 2021            £8.91 £8.36 £6.56 £4.62 £4.30

Apprentices’ rates are slightly more complex. In England, an apprentice is entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either aged 19 and under or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. If the apprentice is 19 or over and have completed their first year, the apprentice is entitled to the minimum wage for their age.

Agricultural Wage Boards and the Agricultural Minimum Wage

In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all the above points are different. Wage rates for farmworkers are still set each year by an agricultural wages board, which take into account NMW and NLW requirements. This was also the case in England until its own agricultural board was abolished in 2013. However, in England, agricultural workers are still entitled to an Agricultural Minimum Wage (“AMW”) if their contract specifies this, and they were employed before the 1 October 2013. This will continue to be the case unless the contract is changed by mutual agreement or it finishes.

The AMW normally depends upon the worker’s job grade and category which is based on skills and responsibilities. For example, in Wales there are 6 grades for workers, which each has their own rate, and overtime is 1.5 times the applicable rate. Scotland has taken a different approach since 1 April 2019. From 1 April 2019, the Scottish Agricultural Wages board has agreed a single minimum hourly rate for all agricultural workers, irrespective of age and duties, which is reviewed normally annually. The current hourly rate from 1 April 2021 is £8.91. In addition, workers with certain qualifications in agriculture or production horticulture (SCQF 6/7 and above) are entitled to be paid an additional sum of at least £1.32 (up from £1.29) per hour from 1 April 2021.

For further information and advice on applicable rates, agricultural workers’ rights or any other employment law matter, please contact Warren Moores in our Employment Law and HR team on 0161 475 1225 or email [email protected].

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