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Abolition of The Agricultural Wages Board – Awaiting Royal Assent

In October 2013, when the current Agricultural Wages Order is due to expire, it is expected that the all the Agricultural Wages Committees and Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees will be abolished.

As a result there will be an abolition of qualification related pay under the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).  Agricultural workers will now be subject to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) which is lower than the AWB rates of pay. There will be no protection for workers of compulsory school age and the statutory holiday entitlement is set to significantly reduce. There will also be a loss of accommodation rates.

Contracts which are already in place will remain unchanged and still be subject to the original implications under the AWB, however employers are free to employ new workers on NMW rates.

Gangmaster Licensing Authority Update

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) currently regulates labour providers “gangmasters” who provide workers for agriculture. Currently the government is analysing the responses from the recent consultation (26th April – 21 June). The aim from the government is to cut back the scope and control the GLA have on regulating sectors such as the Forestry sector and Land Agency. The aim is to reduce the burden of inspections and fees on established, compliant businesses. However some argue that there would be a lack of safeguards for employees in the sector.

Abolition of Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme

Currently the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) allows 21,250 Bulgarian and Romanian agricultural workers to enter the UK for 6 months, which accounts for 1/3 of the UK’s seasonal agricultural work force.  However this is set to end this year when the UK controls on Eastern European nationals are lifted. This will mean that these workers may well look to work in other sectors which may pay better and offer more sociable hours. As a result this may lead to a price rise by growers.

For further information regarding this or other professional services please contact Lucinda Riddell tel: 01748 829210

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