Underpayment Of Farm Workers

A labour-hire company has been penalised $22,440 after underpaying 80 workers on a Queensland mushroom farm. Eighty workers were underpaid a total of $78,664 over eight months during 2014 on the mushroom farm in Stapylton.

The penalty is delivered by the Federal Court to Ms Tao Hu the owner-operator of HRS Country labour-hire before its liquidation in 2016. The penalty will be distributed by the Fair Work Ombudsman to the workers to partially rectify their underpayment.

While on the farm, workers some of which were migrants and visa holders, were underpaid a flat rate of $16.37 per hour. This rate was insufficient under the Horticultural Award as it did not meet the minimum hourly rate or include casual loading, and public holiday rates. Workers also were not given the paid rest breaks they were entitled too.

This underpayment was discovered during the Harvest Trail Inquiry. Horticulture and other agricultural industries are of particular concern to Fair Work as they employ significant numbers of vulnerable workers. Therefore, it is important these workers receive full lawful wages and entitlements. This case is a warning to other farm and agricultural businesses of the penalty’s owners can face if they underpay their staff.

For assistance determining the rate of pay for workers on your farm contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au.

To keep up to date with the latest farm HR and safety updates follow @ProcessWorx on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.