Current COVID driven economic conditions and nationwide labour shortages continue to impact our national agriculture industry. Horticulture farmers, whilst typically resilient, are certainly not immune, with many experiencing unprecedented labour issues across the entire sector. Seasonal labour sourcing is again tricky.
Labour shortages are driving farmers to increase wages and upgrade their employee conditions to attract local workers as part of a more consolidated long-term solution to address foreseeable supply issues. This approach can put an additional financial burden on many already struggling farms, however, another viable option worth exploring for your business is wage subsidies. Currently, several wage subsidy options are available through the Australian Government. These subsidies have been established to provide a level of financial incentive to aid and encourage employers hire eligible participants in ongoing jobs. Wage subsidies can help build a business and give employers greater flexibility in their hiring options by contributing to the initial costs of hiring a new employee.
For the period from 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022, the maximum amount available has increased to $10,000 for all wage subsidies. These subsidies are typically paid over six months delivered through employment services providers, so this is an excellent time to review and explore what alternate options may be open for your new employees who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- 15 to 29 years of age
- Indigenous Australians
- 50 years of age and over
- a parent, or
- registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more
The first step in applying is to talk to an employment services provider in your area and confirm your business can receive payments. Ultimately the decision to offer a wage subsidy is at the provider’s discretion, however your business may qualify if:
- you have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- the person you hire is a new employee that you have never previously employed
- your business is not an Australian, state or territory government agency
- the person you hire meets the eligibility requirements for the wage subsidy
- the position you offer is expected to be ongoing and for 20 hours or more per week, averaged over the six months of the wage subsidy agreement
- the work complies with employment standards for the position (for example, it is suitable work and pays as a minimum the national award wage).
Key placement details:
- All wage subsidy placements must average at least 20 hours per week over the 26-week wage subsidy period and be ongoing employment that complies with the National Employment Standards.
- Jobs can be full time, part time or casual.
- Apprenticeships and traineeships are also eligible to attract a wage subsidy.
Contact Information: You can find out more information through an employment service at www.jobsearch.gov.au/service-providers or you can phone the Employer Hotline on 13 62 68 or 13 17 15.