The People in Dairy
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Minimum entitlements

Employment laws have long recognised a number of entitlements which employers must provide to employees. Eligibility for the particular entitlement usually depends on the employment category.

Minimum entitlements can be found in state (WA) and federal industrial laws and in awards. The main entitlements are minimum wages, maximum hours of work and various forms of leave (sick leave, annual leave, carer's leave and parental leave).

Minimum wages

Minimum wages are laid down in state (WA) and federal legislation and awards and must be complied with.

Federal awards

The federal Pastoral Award 2010 applies to all national system employers in the dairy industry. This award creates 5 separate classifications for dairy farm employees with different rates of pay for each classification which reflect the experience and skills of employees:

  • dairy operator grade 1A (farm and livestock hand level 1 - FLH1)
  • dairy operator grade 1B (farm and livestock hand level 3 - FLH3)
  • dairy operator grade 2 (farm and livestock hand level 5 - FLH5)
  • senior dairy operator grade 1 (farm and livestock hand level 7 - FLH7)
  • senior dairy operator grade 2 (farm and livestock hand level 8 - FLH8)
Matching job categories to the Pastoral Award 2010 employee classifications
Tip
Go to our pay rates section to match a job category with its classification in the Pastoral Award 2010

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National minimum wage for employees not covered by an award


Employers who are not bound by awards must pay at least the national minimum wage which is adjusted and published by the Fair Work Commission

State awards - Western Australia

The dairy industry in Western Australia is award free at a state level but WA State Minimum Conditions of Employment laws apply.

State minimum wage - Western Australia


WA has industrial laws which lay down a minimum wage which is periodically adjusted and published by the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. These rates apply when award rates are less favourable to the employee or when there is no award. For more information, visit WA Farmers Federation website or the State Industrial Laws

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Maximum hours of work

Hours of work and awards

Most awards specify ordinary hours of work and the days on which those hours are to be worked. Penalty rates usually apply to hours worked outside these hours or days. 

The federal Pastoral Award 2010 applies to all national system employers in the dairy industry. The Pastoral Award 2010 provides for ordinary hours of work to be averaged over 152 hours over 4 consecutive weeks. 

Hours of work and federal industrial laws

The National Employment Standards (NES) specify that weekly hours of work must not exceed 38 hours plus reasonable additional hours. What is reasonable for additional hours is determined by a test which balances the needs of the business with the personal, family and occupational health and safety needs of the employee. 

Under the NES, award/agreement free employers and employees can agree in writing that the employee’s hours of work will be averaged over a specified period of no more than 26 weeks providing the average does not exceed 38 hours per week. The averaging of hours provides more flexibility for employers whose business may have seasonal highs and lows. The agreement to average hours in this way must be recorded in a workplace agreement or in writing as part of a written contract of employment.

Hours of work and state industrial laws - WA 

For maximum hours of work and minimum rates of pay in WA, read more about WA state laws

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Leave 

Annual leave

Annual leave entitlements are laid down in awards and state (WA) and federal industrial laws which apply when there is no award or if the award term is less favourable. The National Employment Standards (NES) provide for annual leave for all employers in the dairy industry in Australia except non national system employers in WA - read more about WA state laws

Awards may provide for annual leave entitlements which apply in addition to the NES. The Pastoral Award 2010 provides for an annual leave loading of 17.5% to be paid to employees when taking annual leave and for annual leave which is paid out on termination. 

The NES provide for four weeks paid annual leave for each year of service. Annual leave accrues progressively throughout the year and from year to year. Part-time employees also accrue annual leave on a pro-rata basis depending on the hours they work. Casual employees do not receive annual leave as the casual loading compensates them for this entitlement. 

Payment for annual leave is calculated on what the employee would have received for the employee’s base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work. The employee’s base rate of pay does not include the following:

  • incentive based payments and bonuses;
  • loadings;
  • monetary allowances;
  • overtime or penalty rates.

For employees in the dairy industry covered by the Pastoral Award 2010, the ordinary hours of work are 152 hours over four consecutive weeks. Read our FAQ sheets for quick reference.

Payment of accrued annual leave upon termination of employment

Any annual leave which has accrued must be paid out if the employment is terminated.

Annual leave and the Pastoral Award 2010

The Pastoral Award 2010 specifies that payment for annual leave is the wages the employee would have received for ordinary hours of work had they not been on leave.

Leave loading

Annual leave loading is an award entitlement so it only applies to award employees. The Pastoral Award 2010 provides for a 17.5% annual leave loading to be paid when leave is taken and upon termination if any annual leave is paid out.

Public holidays

If a public holiday falls when an employee is on annual leave, the employee is taken not to be on paid annual leave on that day. Instead the NES about public holidays will apply and the employee will be entitled to be paid for the public holiday at the employee’s base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work

Other forms of leave taken while on annual leave

If an employee is eligible for another form of leave, other than unpaid parental leave, while on annual leave, or is entitled to be absent from work on community service leave, the employee is taken not to be on annual leave during that time. For instance if the employee is eligible for personal leave or carer’s leave while on annual leave, the NES about payment for personal/carer’s leave will apply.

Pastoral Award employees (updated July 2016)

Read about cashing out of annual leave, directing employees to take leave (inc. excessive leave) and taking annual leave in advance for Pastoral Award employees
 

Award / Agreement free employees (updated July 2016)

Read about cashing out annual leave and directing employees to take leave for
award / agreement free employees

Negotiating more annual annual leave than in the National Employment Standards
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Whilst the NES provides the minimum amount of annual leave, employers and employees can negotiate more generous annual leave provisions in workplace agreements or as part of a remuneration package

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Sick leave/personal leave/carer’s leave

Sick leave, personal leave and carer’s leave entitlements are laid down in awards and state (WA) and federal industrial laws. Part-time employees accrue this form of leave on a pro-rata basis.

Casual employees are not entitled to paid sick leave, paid personal leave or paid carer’s leave as the casual loading is calculated to include a component to compensate them for loss of these leave entitlements. 

The National Employment Standards (NES) and personal leave/carer’s leave

Personal/carer’s leave is provided for in the NES. The NES applies to all employers in the dairy industry in Australia, except non national system employers in WA - read more about WA state laws and the National Employment Standards

Negiotiating more personal/carer's leave than in the National Employment Standards
Tip
Whilst the NES provide the minimum amount of paid personal/carer’s leave, all employers and employees can negotiate more generous personal/carer’s leave provisions in workplace agreements or as part of a remuneration package

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The National Employment Standards (NES) and parental leave

The National Employment Standards provide for parental leave. Under the NES, parental leave is unpaid leave for parents for the birth or adoption of a child. It applies to both parents but, except for a period of periods of up to 8 weeks, must be taken at different times. The NES about parental leave applies to all employers in Australia, including non national system employers in WA. 

The federal paid parental leave scheme came into operation on 1 January 2011 - read more about the Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Rules for parental leave & finding time for leave
Tip
The rules for parental leave are complex and if an employee asks for parental leave you should seek advice from your state farming organisation or legal adviser.

If it is hard to organise quiet times to fit in leave, then it may be that there are not enough staff employed. If employees exceed 50 hours per week on a regular basis, many will become disenchanted, perform below potential and possibly seek another job.

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Meal breaks and rest breaks

Under the Fair Work laws meal breaks and rest breaks are an award requirement. The Pastoral Award 2010 provides for:

  • An upaid meal break of not less than 30 minutes and not more than one hour to be taken not later than 5 hours after commencement of work.
    All work performed during a recognised meal break must be paid at double time rates with the payment continuing until the employee receives the meal break.
  • A paid rest break of at least 10 minutes each morning.

The employer and the individual employee can agree that the meal break be taken at another time.
If employers and employees agree, a further unpaid rest break can be taken in the afternoon.

Award-free employees

Award-free employees should also be provided with rest breaks as part of an appropriate occupational health and safety system in the workplace. It is suggested that the award provisions outlined above should also be applied for non-award employees.

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