Get holiday leave sorted out now
This year has raced along. Soon it will be Christmas and then 2013. With that being the case we will have the usual requests for leave and the need to have relief staff on the farm.
This will also bring the perennial questions around pay.
So what are the regulations around holidays and pay?
Remember that staff must apply for leave but application and approval are not the same things. If it really does not suit the employer they can decline a leave request. The employer must try to be as fair and reasonable as they can, but they still have to run a business and sometimes that means that leave is not convenient.
Difficulties can happen when the farm owner and worker both want time off. In this case the farm owner can decline the leave requested by the worker. The owner and worker will usually sit down and work out something between them but, at the end of the day, it is the bosses call.
A hint for employees here; it always helps your employer to plan things if you give them as much notice of when you would like to take leave as possible.
If you want New Year off then let them know now, not on December 27 and certainly not on January 1!
Next, if an employee works a statutory day such as Christmas, Boxing Day, January 1 and 2 or the transferable days, they are entitled to be paid at time and a half of the hours worked.
What often happens on a farm is that just the basics get done, the things that have to be done each day, that is, milking, shed clean, cows in pasture, feed and checked.
Often this is only a half- day’s work or maybe two thirds of a day.
What the employer can do then is nothing, just leave the day’s pay unchanged. Why?
Two thirds of a day’s work x 1.5 = a full day’s pay. So there is no need for a change in the usual pay. However if they work a full day the pay will need to be adjusted.
The employee does also get another day in lieu, which they can take at another time – with the employer’s agreement. If not taken within a year this can be paid out with the employee’s agreement.
To avoid conflict I recommend that all farm employees complete daily timesheets and get these signed off by the employer.
Then there are relief staff. With holidays often comes the need to find relief staff for everything from the occasional milking to finding staff to cover a holiday period.
These staff do require an employment agreement. Yes, even casual staff require a casual employment agreement.
These staff do not get a day in lieu for a statutory day as it is not a regular working day for that employee for you, so that is problem one eliminated. But they do get paid time and a half and as a genuine casual employee they also get paid holiday pay at eight per cent on top of what they earn as they go or at their finish date if it was a shortterm contract. This must be detailed in the employment agreement and shown as a separate item on the payslip.
This year Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Tuesday and Boxing Day and January 2 fall on a Wednesday. As they all fall on weekdays the statutory holidays are observed on the actual days.
If an employee would usually work on the Tuesday and/ or Wednesday and still works on these days they are entitled to be paid at time and a half for the time they work plus given a day in lieu at another date.
If you hire someone to work on these days and they are not their normal working days for you (that is, they would not normally work for you on a Tuesday or a Wednesday) they still need to be paid time and a half for the hours worked but you do not need to give them any days in lieu.