New pay rates for casual workers

Casual workers in horticulture are now entitled to overtime payment in certain conditions and should get familiar with their entitlements under the Hort Award.

A recent decision by the Fair Work Commission that changes the Hort Award, which sets the base pay rate for people working in horticulture, means casual workers must be paid penalty rates under certain conditions.

The changes are effective from the first full pay period on or after the 15th April.

“The award changes are significant,” said Mr Robert Hayes, State Manager with the National Harvest Labour Information Service, MADEC. “The decision has changed the Horticulture Award for casual employees to include ordinary hours of work, a night loading and overtime entitlements. It also clarifies the penalty rate for working on public holidays for casuals.”

Key changes that workers need to understand include:

  • Casual employees are now entitled overtime pay. This means that casual workers are now required to get paid 175% of the casual hourly rate (including the 25% casual loading which previously applied) when they work more than 12 hours in a single day or engagement, or more than 304 hours in an eight-week period.
  • A night loading now applies. Casual employees are also entitled to a 15% night loading if they work between 8.31pm and 4.59am. This is paid in addition to their 25% casual loading. Both loadings are calculated on their minimum hourly wage.
  • Overtime provisions do not apply to piece rate workers. Where workers are paid on a piece rate basis (i.e. where pay is related to how much you pick or pack), no overtime or night loading applies.
  • Public holiday penalty rates clarified. Although there have been no changes to public holiday penalty rates, the Commission’s decision reaffirmed that casual employees who work on a public holiday are paid 225% of their minimum hourly wage (this includes their 25% casual loading). Employees get this rate whether they’re working overtime hours or normal hours.

Mr Hayes encouraged workers to speak to their employees about the changes if they weren’t sure of their entitlements or to contact the Fair Work Commission directly.