A single minimum level of pay for agricultural workers – equivalent to the UK government’s new national living wage – has been agreed by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.
The changes – provisionally agreed last year – will come into effect from 1 April. While farmers and their workers often agree rates above the minimum set by the board, from April this cannot be below an hourly rate of £7.50 for all agricultural workers, irrespective of age and duties.
NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said he was pleased the wages board had recognised that aligning rates with the new national living wage equated to a substantial increase, and that this had been used to set the minimum level.
Walker also said employers welcomed the recognition that overtime rules were having a significant impact on seasonal workers, adding: “We have been able to get agreement that will see overtime for those in the first 26 weeks of employment not begin until a minimum 48 hours have been worked in a week.”
The board also agreed that the overtime rate for all workers after 26 weeks’ continuous employment would start after 39 hours were worked – and will be paid at the rate of 1.5 times the agreed hourly rate.
Those undertaking a Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture will see their rate rise by 38p an hour to £4.40, while those with an appropriate qualification will earn £1.14 on top of the minimum wage.
An additional allowance of £5.60 per working dog, up to four dogs, was also agreed, while an increase in the offset rate for those supplied with accommodation other than a house was set at £6 a day.