Fair Work Commission rules on piece work rates


The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that ‘pieceworker provisions in the Horticulture Award were not fit for purpose.’

vegetablesWA, through the National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council, horticulture industry bodies had banded together to fight against the proposed changes to introduce a minimum floor by the Australia’s Workers Union (AWU).

The decision is a draft variation determination and is a provisional view by the full bench of the FWC.

An excerpt of the decision is below:

The Full Bench expressed the view that the existing pieceworker provisions in the Horticulture Award are not fit for purpose; they do not provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net as required by s.134 of the Act. The Full Bench was satisfied that the insertion of a minimum wage floor with consequential time recording provisions in the piecework clause is necessary to ensure that the Horticulture Award achieves the modern awards objective.

The Full Bench expressed the provisional view that it is necessary to vary the Horticulture Award in the terms of the draft clause.

The Horticulture Council and its members are extremely disappointed with the decision and the impact this will have on growers throughout Australia, particularly at a time when the industry is already grappling with significant labour shortages.

The NFF and its members have invested a significant amount of time, money and resources to put the best case forward on behalf of the horticulture industry to ensure a positive outcome for growers.

It is our strong belief, that a fair days work should always receive a fair days pay, and the piece work rate, when used appropriately, offers that.

To see the National Farmers’ Federation press release – see here.

There is no date yet set for when this will come into effect.

The next steps for the process via the FWC is that interested parties will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed draft variation determination and the provisional view:

  1. Submissions in response to the proposed draft variation determination and our provisional view should be filed by no later than 4.00pm on Friday 26 November 2021.
  2. Submissions in reply are to be filed by no later than 4.00pm on Friday 10 December 2021.
  3. Any request for an oral hearing is to be made by no later than 4.00pm on Monday 13 December 2021. Absent a specific request for an oral hearing, the matter will be determined on the papers. If a hearing is required, it will be held at 9:30am on Thursday 16 December 2021.
  4. If no submissions are filed opposing our provisional view, we will issue a variation determination in the same terms as the draft determination at Attachment D.
  5. All submissions to be sent to amod@fwc.gov.au.

For further detail on the decision and full documents of the proceedings see here.