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Fair Work Ombudsman to squeeze berry farmers to ensure compliance

Seasonal WorkersJanuary 30, 2015

Fair Work Ombudsman to squeeze berry farmers to ensure compliance (Last Updated On: January 30, 2015)

Next month, the Fair Work Ombudsman will be traveling to Tasmania as part of its Harvest Trail initiative. Investigators will be in search for business owners who have hired seasonal workers on their farms, to ensure that they are meeting the employment obligations laid out in the Fair Work Act.

This time of year is a very busy period for the berry and strawberry industry. Production and retail demand is high and this leads to the desperate employment of labour. Often with the influx of staff, small business owners can fail to abide by their employment obligations and this can ultimately lead to the business unlawfully exploiting staff.

Overseas workers in particular, are heavily relied upon in the industry due to the desirable rural and regional working days required to obtain their visas. Workers on a 417 working holiday visa must be employed for 88 days in order to apply for their second year visa. As a result, employers need to have all their paper work up-to-date and meeting employment requirements.

When the Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigators come knocking they are critiquing a business’s employment processes and procedures. They will be looking into wages, pay slips, staff records and ensuring that the business owners and staff alike are fully aware of their workplace entitlements.

Should these farmers fail to abide by every facet of the Fair Work Act, they will be fined and strictly monitored in the future. If the business owners are found to have underpaid their staff, they will also have to pay back lost remuneration. These payments in one large sum can be crippling to a business.

Businesses that rely on seasonal work to last the year through are particularly vulnerable to these investigators. If you are a berry farmer in Tasmania and need immediate support to ensure that you are covered, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415 or fill in the form below. We can implement the correct workplace practices so that your business is compliant.

*Information sourced via the Fair Work Ombudsman and The Examiner.

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