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Agricultural Wage Rates Rise 1 October

The last Agricultural Wages Board order for England, agreed in June, will see a 2.8% pay increase and a minimum wage of £5.95 an hour for grade 1 workers, with effect from 1 October.
The board has served the industry well as it is transparent and everybody knew the rules of engagement and it sets the wages floor for agricultural workers throughout the UK.
There is a real danger that pay arrangements will fragment and abuse return as the industry is only now waking up to the skills shortages it is facing. The role of the GLA (Gangmaster Licensing Authority) will be vital.
So farmers need to consider what they will offer and how to express it in terms of benefits
The hourly rate is straight forward but what about:
  • Housing
  • Council tax
  • Fuel
  • Utilities
  • Use of a vehicle.
  • Training
If you do need to recruit new staff how would you go about it once you’ve prepared a job description (do I hear you chuckling a job description from a Farmer!):
  • Word of mouth
  • Local advertising
  • Use an agency
Whatever the route, don’t count on finding individuals of the required standard within days.
It takes time depending on the requirements it could be up to 3 months. During this time you’ll be saving wages but losing productivity so get ahead of the game.
Such are the skills shortages that farmers have already embraced recruitment from Eastern Europe and Polish workers voices can be heard throughout the year rather than just seasonally. We suspect Eastern Europeans will fill skills gaps for some time to come and enlightened Farmers need to investigate this option especially with an ageing farm hand population.
Package offered
On top of the AWB starting wage of £13,334 a year, expect to add about £5000 a year in overtime ( based in 10 hours a week), Employer’s Liability Insurance at 1% and Employer’s National Insurance Contribution at 12.8%. The total salary is now approaching £20,000 a year + benefits.
Use of subcontractors is common within farming. It can make sense to outsource your labour on a long term basis paying one hourly rate + VAT for the basic week and getting others to deal with everything else so you can concentrate on what you do best – running the farm.


Author: Chris Slay

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