Pay & piece rates
Avoid costly mistakes – use the information and resources on this page to get wages right.
On this page:
- Pay rates
- Hourly rates
- Piece rates – Horticulture Award
- Piece rates – Wine Award
- Tax and superannuation
Employers have to pay employees for all work they do. This includes for:
- mandatory work activities.
Employees in the horticulture industry are usually covered by the Horticulture Award or Wine Award. An award is a legal document that sets minimum pay rates and other entitlements, like leave and overtime. Labour hire workers can be covered by these awards too.
Check what award an employee is covered by using our Find my award tool.
Employees under the Horticulture Award or Wine Award can be paid hourly rates or piece rates. They can also be paid both.
An employee covered by the Horticulture Award can be paid:
- an hourly rate
- piece rates, or
- both hourly and piece rates.
Where an employee who is paid a piece rate does work that isn’t covered by their piecework record, they have to be paid at least the minimum hourly rate for their classification under the Horticulture Award. For example, an employee could be:
- paid a piece rate for picking oranges in the morning (under a piecework record)
- paid an hourly rate for picking apples or packing oranges in the afternoon (where these tasks are not covered by their piecework record).
Find out more about the requirements and obligations of hourly rates and piece rates at:
An employee covered by the Wine Award can be paid piecework rates (under a piecework agreement) and hourly rates for different types of work they’ve done in the same day or shift or over the course of a roster. For example, an employee could be:
- paid a piece rate for picking grapes in the morning
- paid an hourly rate for doing general labouring duties in the afternoon.
Find out more at Piece rates – Wine Award.
Examples of minimum hourly pay rates
|Type of work||Award||Minimum hourly rate (adult full-time level/grade 1 employee)||Minimum hourly rate (adult casual level/grade 1 employee)||Piece rates allowed||Minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers|
|Planting, picking, sorting and packing fruit and vegetables||
$21.38 (from 1 July 2022)
$26.73 (from 1 July 2022)
|Working in vineyards picking wine grapes or pruning wine grape vines||
$21.68 (from 1 July 2022)
$27.10 (from 1 July 2022)
Employers can face significant penalties if they don't pay employees their correct pay and entitlements. A court can penalise a company that underpays its workers up to $825,000 per contravention. For more information about penalties, go to our Litigation page.
A piece rate is where an employee gets paid by the piece. It's based on the amount the employee has picked, packed, pruned or made. Employees getting piece rates are paid by output. For example, the number of kilograms or bins of produce picked.
A piece rate is based on individual effort only – not on group effort.
Image reminding employers and employees that piece rates are based on individual effort. They can’t be based on group effort.
Under the Horticulture Award there:
- is a minimum wage guarantee for each day that pieceworkers work
- are requirements for setting piece rates
- are requirements for using piece rates.
Image showing that from the first pay period that starts on or after 28 April 2022 pieceworkers must get at least the minimum wage guarantee.
Full-time, part-time and casual employees who are paid a piece rate under the Horticulture Award have a minimum wage guarantee for each day that they work.
This means that for each day that they work, a pieceworker has to be paid at least the ‘hourly rate for the pieceworker’, multiplied by the number of hours worked on that day.
The ‘hourly rate for the pieceworker’ is a new term in the award and means the minimum hourly rate for the pieceworker’s classification level. For casual employees, this includes the 25% casual loading.
If the pieceworker would earn more than the minimum wage guarantee for their day’s work under the piece rate, they have to be paid that higher amount.
Examples of the minimum wage guarantee
Employers can use our templates to record an employee’s hours of work and piece rate and complete piecework reconciliations:
A piece rate has to allow a pieceworker working at the ‘average productivity of a pieceworker competent at the piecework task’ to earn at least 15% more than the hourly rate for the pieceworker.
The ‘hourly rate for the pieceworker’ is the minimum hourly rate in the Horticulture Award for the pieceworker’s classification level. For casual pieceworkers, it includes the 25% casual loading.
The Horticulture Award also sets out how to work out the ‘average productivity of a pieceworker competent at the piecework task’.
Examples of calculating the 15% rule for setting piecework rates
Find out more, including how to work out the ‘average productivity of a pieceworker competent at a piecework task’, at:
There are requirements for using piece rates under the Horticulture Award:
- if an employer uses piece rates to pay their employees, they should be able to demonstrate how they calculated their piece rates
- piece rates have to be set before a piecework record is made
- a piecework record has to be made, signed and given to the employee before the piecework starts
- piece rates should be reviewed regularly
- a pieceworker is paid 200% of the piece rate for work on a public holiday.
- ask workers to overload buckets or bins
- ask workers to pick bad produce for free
- apply group rates, where a group of workers is paid at a combined rate.
Find out more at:
Looking for historical information? Access our historical guidance on piecework rates under the Horticulture Award in our Library article Piecework in the Horticulture Award prior to 28 April 2022.
A piece rate is where an employee gets paid by the piece. For example, the number of grape bunches an employee has picked.
Under the Wine Award, an agreed piecework rate must allow an employee of ‘average capacity’ to earn at least 20% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award for the employee’s employment type and classification.
Learn more about piece rates by going to How to use piece rates – Wine Award.
Employees in Australia need to pay tax – even if they are paid in cash.
Employees in Australia need a Tax File Number (TFN) and need to give it to their employer. Where required, the employer needs to withhold and remit tax from their employee’s pay to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Employees who meet certain requirements must be paid superannuation by their employer. If a worker is on a temporary visa, they may be able to claim this payment when they leave.
The ATO gives advice about tax and superannuation. Find out more on the ATO website:
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