Four key dates for farmers
As always, our legal champions endeavour to keep you informed of key dates ahead of time so you don’t get caught short when something changes. Here are four key dates to note in your calendar.
The minimum wage increases from 1 April
This year’s review of the minimum wage sees the adult minimum wage rate increased from $15.75 per hour to $16.50 per hour. The starting out and training minimum wage rate will increase from $12.60 per hour to $13.20 per hour.
We have alerted this change in previous articles, but if you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to review all wage and salary structures to make sure your workers are paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked.
This also applies to salaried employees and casual workers. Even if you have a fluctuating workforce, all your employees must receive at least the minimum wage for all hours they work. It may be necessary to do regular checks throughout the year and top up pay packets if wages haven’t met the specified minimum rate per hour.
Remember: it’s a legal requirement for employers to keep and maintain accurate time and wage records. You don’t want to face fines.
Dairy stock movements
Many dairy farmers will be preparing for Gypsy Day in June. With the detection of the bacterial infection Mycoplasma bovis last July, we urge you to be more cautious than normal as this is a serious issue for the agricultural industry.
If you are buying cows, we advise you to get the protection of a written agreement which provides warranties and provisions around the rejection of animals if they have this infection.
If you’re moving your own stock to another property, either one you own or where you sharemilk, you won’t be able to get such protections. You can give yourself some piece of mind by checking Restricted Place Notices and Notices of Directions when making the move.
Speak to our rural lawyers if you have any questions about moving cows of if you want to organise a written agreement for buying cows.
New milk cooling regulations
A reminder that you need to be compliant with the new regulations for milk cooling on 1 June 2018 if you operate a farm dairy. Contact us if you need more information about the regulations.
Changes coming from the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018
If you’ve seen our previous article on the subject, you’ll be aware the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018 was tabled in Parliament at the end of January this year.
If not, included in the proposed amendments are changes to the 90 day trial period, the restoration of specific times for meal and rest breaks, the restoration of some collective bargaining rights and the restoration of reinstatement as the primary remedy in personal grievance cases.
Obviously, if you employ workers on your farm, you’ll need to be aware of these changes. We will, of course, continue to keep you up to date.