Working the Harvest Trail
We know there’s a lot to remember when looking for work in Australia so we’ve made it easier for you.
Read our simple tips to help make sure you thrive when working the Harvest Trail.
On this page:
- know your workplace rights
- be careful when finding work
- know who you are working for
- know what you should be paid
- finding a suitable place to stay
- keep your own work records.
You have workplace rights in Australia. This covers things like:
- how much you get paid
- your working conditions
- when you can take time off.
Backpackers and seasonal workers, like everyone else in Australia, have workplace rights.
Take the time to find an ethical and legitimate employer. Find an employer that pays the correct pay rates and doesn’t try to take advantage of you.
When looking for work, here are some warning signs that things might not be right:
- job offers that require upfront fees or include ‘free’ accommodation
- ads that don’t list much business information, such as only a phone number or post office box
- jobs picking the wrong seasonal fruits or vegetables (for example, picking summer fruits in winter)
- job offers that guarantee a quick visa or sponsored employment in Australia.
Avoid work arrangements with people who meet you at regional airports or bus depots. You may be approached with promises of guaranteed work picking fruit or vegetables, along with accommodation and transport. These offers can be risky because they might be a scam to get money.
Remember: it’s illegal for an employer to ask you for money to receive a job offer or to ask you for money to keep a job.
If a job ad sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Before accepting a job, do some research on the employer and the location of the job. Ask who you are working for – what is the business name and Australian Business Number (ABN)? Check if the business is officially registered at the Australian Business Register .
The Australian Government has a Harvest Trail job website that connects job seekers with employers working the Harvest Trail.
Also be prepared for the type of work you are agreeing to do. Harvest work involves a wide range of activities including some that are physically demanding.
If you’re an adult casual worker picking fruit or vegetables and if you are paid an hourly rate, you should be paid at least $25.41 an hour.
Workers on piecework agreements also need to be paid correctly. If you’re on a piecework agreement, under the Horticulture Award your pay rate has to allow the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the minimum hourly rate.
Your piecework agreement must set out your piecework rate at the time you enter into it. Your employer must also regularly review your piecework rate to make sure you are being paid correctly.
Go to our Pay & piecework rates page to learn more about piecework rates.
Sometimes employers will offer accommodation with a job. This could mean living on the farm or in a nearby hostel.
You have the right to choose where you live and can choose to find your own accommodation, like a share house, motel, caravan park or a backpacker’s hostel.
You may be required to pay a deposit or a bond. Be wary of paying upfront for accommodation if you have not yet found a job.
Pay slips are important for making sure you’re being paid the correct wages and you’re getting your entitlements.
You must be given a pay slip every time you’re paid. To find out what should be included on your pay slip go to our Pay slips page.
Keep a record of the hours you work, where and the type of work you’re doing. Use a diary or download our free Record My Hours app.
You can use the Record My Hours app to get records instantly if an issue arises about pay or hours. It’s quick and easy to set up and keeps your records securely.
With the app, you can also be confident when discussing a pay issue with your employer or with us if an issue of underpayment arises.