Farm labour arrangements: what you should know

Author: | Date: 25 Jan 2019

image of update west
GRDC Farm Business Updates are designed to enhance grower and adviser knowledge of farm business issues, to help with effective planning and management. Photo by GRDC.

A series of farm business events in Western Australia in February will include a pragmatic focus on the area of farm labour arrangements – including compliance, risks and recommended actions.

Pacer Legal director Stephen Park will be one of the presenters at Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Farm Business Updates in Tambellup on February 12, Lake Grace on February 13 and Moora on February 14.

These events are designed to enhance grower and adviser knowledge of farm business issues, to help with effective planning and management.

Mr Park will address the topic of ‘Employing farm labour – practices, compliance and minimising risks’ at each of the three Updates, where he will stress the need for proper planning and documentation by employers, as well as knowing your obligations and complying with them.

He says farm business employers are expected to maintain and manage employment relationships in accordance with their statutory obligations.

“In this regard, they can be expected to be held to a high standard as they are expected to have the resources, as a reasonably sized enterprise, to ensure compliancy with statutory obligations. Ignorance will not be excused,” he said.

“Employment issues tend to surface in periods of high stress, such as seeding or harvest time, and this is when policies and procedures are especially important to avoid disruptions to farm operations.”

Mr Park says the engagement of farm employees is undertaken primarily to drive farm profits and to relieve the workload on owners of farm businesses, and their family members.

“However, I often hear business owners say: ‘given the hassles of compliancy obligations, I wish I had not taken on so many staff’,” he said.

“Yet the sourcing of labour from outside the family group is now often unavoidable given the scale of operations, and it is obviously advisable to minimise the instances of disruption caused by disaffected employees and the consequences that can arise from an unfair dismissal claim.”

image of Stephen Park
Pacer Legal director Stephen Park will be one of the presenters at Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Farm Business Updates being held in WA in early February.

To minimise these risks, Mr Park encourages farm business employers to:

  • Know and comply with their employment obligations
  • Have a concise set of employment practices and procedures
  • Maintain a comprehensive set of employment records for seven years.

He will delve deeper into the topic, including a ‘drill down’ session using a grower case study example, at the Update events. Areas covered will include how to identify the jurisdiction under which to engage employees, and unfair dismissal claims.

Other speakers at the 2019 WA GRDC Farm Business Update events include:

  • Saul Eslake, economist: Trade wars, Trump politics and Banking Royal Commissions – what’s the fall-out for agriculture? The economist’s view
  • Cam Nicholson, Nicon Rural: Decisions, decisions: stress testing your farm decision thinking by building your own practical decision matrix
  • RSM Australia personnel Jo Gilbert (Tambellup event); Cameron Taylor (Lake Grace event) and Keiran Sullivan (Moora event): Tax Tips – essential tax management strategies for grain growers
  • Advisers Rod Grieve, agricultural consultant (Tambellup event); Steve Curtin, ConsultAg, (Lake Grace event); and David Williams, BJW Agribusiness, (Moora event): Farming to Profit – focusing on the drivers and breaking down the barriers to profit
  • Susan Brumby, National Centre for Farmer Health: Sustaining farm family businesses – your health is critical.

Each of the GRDC Farm Business Updates in WA will be held from 9.25am to 4.25pm. To register or for more information, visit https://grdc.com.au/events or www.orm.com.au, or contact event coordinator ORM on 03 5441 6176 or admin@orm.com.au.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Stephen Park, Pacer Legal director
(08) 6315 0001
stp@pacerlegal.com.au

Contact

Natalie Lee, GRDC communications manager west
0427189827
natalie.lee@grdc.com.au

GRDC Project code: ORM00017