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

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.

Your employer has to give you a copy of the following documents before, or as soon as possible after, you start your new job:

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Be careful when finding work

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.

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Know who you are working for

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 external-icon.png.

The Australian Government has a Harvest Trail job website external-icon.png 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. 

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Know what you should be paid

Minimum wages increase from 1 July 2022

From 1 July 2022:

  • the National Minimum Wage has increased by $40 per week, which amounts to an increase of 5.2%
  • award minimum wages have increased by 4.6%, which are subject to a minimum increase for adult award classifications of $40 per week and based on a 38-hour week for a full-time employee.

Other award wages, including junior, apprentice and supported wages that are based on adult minimum wages, will get a proportionate increase.

Some awards will get a minimum wage increase from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2022, while others will get one from the first full pay period on or after 1 October 2022.

You can now find these new rates in our Pay and Conditions Tool and Pay guides.

Learn more about the minimum wage increase at Minimum wage increase from 1 July 2022.

Adult casuals paid an hourly rate

If you’re an adult casual worker picking fruit or vegetables and you are paid an hourly rate, you should be paid at least $26.73 an hour (as at 1 July 2022). This may be more depending on the type of work you’re doing. There are different minimum rates for full-time and part-time employees and juniors.

Check your minimum hourly rate using our Pay and Conditions Tool.

Piece rates

If you’re being paid piece rates under the Horticulture Award, certain rules apply.

Your piece rate has to allow for a pieceworker working at the ‘average productivity of a pieceworker competent at the piecework task’ to earn at least 15% above the hourly rate for the pieceworker’s classification level. For casuals, the hourly rate includes the casual loading, so that the 15% calculation is done on top of the casual loading.

All workers picking fruit, vegetables or produce under the Horticulture Award have also have a ‘minimum wage guarantee’. This means they must be paid a minimum amount for the hours that they work each day if that is more than they would earn under their piece rate alone.

Your employer have to give you a piecework record before you start the piecework, and it must set out your piece rate. If your employer wants or needs to change your piece rate, they need to give you a new piecework record first.

Go to our Pay and piece rates page to learn more about the rules for piece rates in the horticulture industry.

Covered by the Wine Award? Check what applies at How to use piece rates – Wine Award.

Minimum hourly award rates are reviewed by the Fair Work Commission every year. Go to Award and agreement free wages and conditions and Minimum wages for more information.

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Finding the right place to stay

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.

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Keep your own work records

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.

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