Pay & piece rates

Free webinar for employers about changes to Horticulture Award

We're holding a free webinar for employers on Wednesday 29 June 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM (AEST). 

From the first pay period on or after 28 April 2022, there is a new minimum wage guarantee and new record keeping requirements for pieceworkers employed under the Horticulture Award.

This Q&A style webinar will provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we get from employers and their representatives on these changes. A full list of these FAQs is available on the registration page.

To find out more information and register, see our webinar registration form external-icon.png

Translate our new pieceworker information

A reminder we have a free and simple website translator you can use:

  1. Select your language from the options, such as 简体中文, ไทย, or Bahasa Indonesia.
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Use the translator to read our updated pieceworker information here, including on the new minimum wage guarantee.

Or get a summary of the changes at New minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers, which you can translate too. Our translator is available on fairwork.gov.au and is in the top right-hand corner.

Avoid costly mistakes – use the information and resources on this page to get wages right.

On this page:

See also:

Pay rates

Employers have to pay employees for all work they do. This includes for:

  • training
  • meetings
  • 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.

Horticulture Award

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:

Employers can use our free Piecework arrangements employer checklist (DOCX) (PDF) to help ensure they’re meeting the rules for piece rates.

Wine Award

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.

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Hourly rates

Get set for a minimum wage increase

The Fair Work Commission has announced:

  • a $40 a week increase to the National Minimum Wage, which amounts to an increase of 5.2%
  • a 4.6% increase to minimum award wages, with a $40 minimum increase applying.

We have more detailed information about the decision at Get set for a minimum wage increase.

Make sure you sign up for email updates and we’ll let you know when we’ve updated our pay tools and other resources.

Use our Pay Calculator to check minimum hourly pay rates and allowances under the awards. You can also download the award pay guides from Pay guides.

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

Horticulture Award external-icon.png

$20.33 (from 1 July 2021)

$25.41 (from 1 July 2021)

Yes

Yes

Working in vineyards picking wine grapes or pruning wine grape vines

Wine Award external-icon.png

$20.63 (from 1 November 2021)

$25.79 (from 1 November 2021)

Yes

No

 

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 $666,000 per contravention. For more information about penalties, go to our Litigation page.

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Piece rates – Horticulture Award

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.

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:

Minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers

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.

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

Type of employee Minimum wage guarantee
Level 1 full-time and part-time employees

Under the Horticulture Award, the hourly rate for a full-time and part-time level 1 employee is $20.33 per hour.

If this employee works 7.6 hours per day, their minimum wage guarantee is $154.51 per day ($20.33 x 7.6).

Level 1 casual employees

Under the Horticulture Award, the hourly rate for a casual adult level 1 employee is $25.41 per hour ($20.33 + 25% casual loading).

If this employee works 7.6 hours per day, their minimum wage guarantee is $193.12 per day ($25.41 x 7.6).

 

Employers can use our templates to record an employee’s hours of work and piece rate and complete piecework reconciliations:

Requirements for setting piece rates

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

Type of employee Piece rate requirements
Level 1 full-time and part-time employees

Under the Horticulture Award, the hourly rate for a full-time and part-time level 1 employee is $20.33 per hour.

The piece rate has to allow the pieceworker, working at the average productivity of a competent pieceworker, to earn at least $23.38 per hour.

This is the hourly rate of $20.33, plus 15% of that rate.

Level 1 casual employees

Under the Horticulture Award, the hourly rate for a casual adult level 1 employee is $25.41 per hour ($20.33 + 25% casual loading).

The piece rate has to allow the pieceworker working at the average productivity of a competent pieceworker to earn at least $29.22 per hour.

This is the casual hourly rate of $25.41, plus 15% of that rate.

 

Find out more, including how to work out the ‘average productivity of a pieceworker competent at a piecework task’, at:

Requirements for using piece rates

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.

Employers can’t:

  • 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.

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Piece rates – Wine Award

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.

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Tax and superannuation

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:

For growers:

For employees:

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Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra