TWO programs run by the Fair Work Ombudsman aim to protect the rights of overseas and seasonal workers, making sure employers, hostel owners and labour-hire operators understand and comply with their obligations.
A three-year Harvest Train initiative by the agency's Regional Services Team is reviewing compliance within the fruit and vegetable industry, as a result of persistent complaints and underpayments in the sector.
At the same time, the Overseas Workers Team is conducting a year-long review of the wages and conditions of overseas workers in Australia on the 417 Working Holiday visa after a spike in complaints and underpayments in the horticulture sector.
The most common issue encountered by the Fair Work Ombudsman is in relation to rates of pay or piece work agreements. This relates to agreements that don't give workers the chance to pick the amount of fruit to make the casual hourly rate under the Horticulture Award.
The casual hourly rate for a fruit or vegetable picker under the Horticulture Award is $21.08.
Piece work agreement must be given to workers in writing and set a rate that an average competent worker can achieve.