Pay & piecework rates

 

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

On this page:

Pay rates

Employers must pay employees for all work performed – this includes training, meetings and 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 provides 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 piecework rates. They can also be paid both.

An employee could 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 fruit in the morning and an hourly rate for doing general labouring duties in the afternoon of a shift.

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Hourly rates

Employees covered by the Horticulture Award or Wine Award will have different rates of pay depending on what type of work they do. Below are examples of the minimum hourly pay rates for these industries:

Type of work

Award

Min. hourly rate (adult full-time employee as of 1 July 2021)

Min. hourly rate (adult casual employee as of 1 July 2021)

Piecework rates allowed

Planting, picking, sorting and packing fruit and vegetables

Horticulture Award external-icon.png

$20.33

$25.41

Yes

Working in vineyards picking wine grapes or pruning wine grape vines

Wine Award external-icon.png

$20.12

$25.15

Yes

 

To check award pay rates and allowances use our Pay Calculator.

For a summary of pay rates in each award download the award Pay guide.

Employers can face significant penalties when 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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Piecework rates

A piecework rate is where an employee gets paid by the piece. It's based on the amount the employee has picked, packed, pruned or made.

A piecework rate is based on individual effort only - not on group effort.

Piecework rates graphic

Employees getting piecework rates are paid by output, such as the number of kilograms or bins of produce picked, rather than hourly rates for time worked.

An employee being paid piecework rates doesn’t have a guaranteed minimum pay rate. Their earnings depend on how productive they are.

Under the Horticulture Award, an agreed piecework rate must allow the ‘average competent employee’ to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award for the employee’s employment type and classification.

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.

Important rules for piecework rates

  • If an employer uses piecework rates to pay their employees, they should be able to demonstrate how they calculated their piecework rates.
  • Piecework rates must be set at the time a piecework agreement is made.
  • A piecework agreement must be made before work starts under the agreement.
  • Piecework rates must also be reviewed regularly.

Find out more about how to do this on our Keeping the right records page.

Piecework practices that employers should avoid:

  • Don’t ask workers to overload buckets or bins.
  • Don’t ask workers to pick bad produce for free.
  • Don’t apply group rates, where a group of workers is paid at a combined rate.

To learn more go to How to use piecework agreements

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Tax & 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.

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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More information about pay & piecework rates

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