PROPER planning, careful documentation, knowing your obligations and complying with them are the keys to successfully employing farm labour, according to Pacer Legal director Stephen Park.
Mr Park said farm business employers were 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 said the engagement of farm employees was 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.”
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.
Mr Park will be one of the presenters at Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Farm Business Updates being held in Western Australia in early February.
Addressing the topic of ‘Employing farm labour – practices, compliance and minimising risks’, he will present a pragmatic focus on the area of farm labour arrangements – including compliance, risks and recommended actions.
The GRDC Farm Business Updates will be held in Tambellup on February 12, Lake Grace on February 13 and Moora on February 14.
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 [email protected]