NFU Scotland & Scottish Land & Estates have issued a joint statement on the minimum agricultural wages and employment terms set by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.
A single minimum hourly rate of £7.50 for all agricultural workers will apply from April 1st, irrespective of age and duties. This is in line with the National Living Wage minimum for workers over 25 and higher than the National Minimum Wage which applies to those under 25.
NFU Scotland’s Chief Executive, Scott Walker, said:“The announcement is formal confirmation of the negotiations that took place last year and now sets the minimum rates of pay that will be effective from 1 April 2017.
“The introduction of the National Living Wage put a very different slant on the negotiations with the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.
“Agricultural wages cannot be set at a rate of pay that is less than that of the National Living Wage. We were pleased, therefore, that the wages board recognised the substantial increase that is to take place in the National Living Wage and agreed that the minimum agricultural wages would be in line with those.
“We were also successful in receiving recognition from the wages board that the rules on overtime were having a significant impact on seasonal workers. As such, 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. This is positive for both workers and employers.”
Katy Dickson, Senior Policy Officer at Scottish Land & Estates, said:“An hourly rate in line with the National Living Wage concurs with Scottish Land & Estates’ desire to see employees being paid fairly. Whilst this is a significant increase at a time of uncertainty for agricultural businesses, employers are committed to ensuring that staff are offered good working conditions.
“The introduction of the National Living Wage last year, however, presents an even stronger case that there is no need for agriculture to be singled out as the only industry with a Board that sets minimum rates of pay. While the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board used to serve a valuable purpose, it is now no longer required and can lead to confusion for both employers and employees.
“With a base rate of pay now set by the government across all industries, we believe that other discussions on rates of pay are best left to individual employers and the employees that work for them. These talks can then properly consider the varying conditions which operate in different farming enterprises and businesses.”