QUEENSLAND growers have received a positive report from the Fair Work Ombudsman in pay slip and record-keeping management for workers.
The regions of Wide Bay and Moreton Bay were found to have high levels of compliance since the regulator began its agriculture strategy investigations in December 2021.
Employers who fail to meet record-keeping obligations are more likely to be underpaying according to the workplace agency.
In Moreton Bay, from 38 finalised investigations, only one instance of non-compliance was found, leading to a Compliance Notice being issued to an avocado grower who rectified the minor underpayment.
In Wide Bay, from 36 finalised investigations, only one breach (a minor payslip error) was found.
Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers chief executive officer Bree Watson said the report was good news in a year where changes like the minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers was introduced.
"We have seen a lot of changes happen within not just the industry but also in terms of the legislation that supports workers," Ms Watson said.
"We saw earlier this year changes to the Horticultural Award, we saw the floor rate come into piece rates, and a lot of these guidelines are strengthening how we pay our workers.
"It's great to see there were high levels of compliance in the Wide Bay, we have a lot to offer and we do attract a lot of workers into the region, so we expect investigations in areas of high productivity and we need to ensure those not doing the right thing are addressed."
In contrast, the Fair Work Ombudsman has fined growers and labour hire providers in North West Victoria's Sunraysia region, South Australia's Riverland, and NSW's Coffs Harbour and Grafton a combined $78,362 for breaching pay slips and record-keeping laws in the last year.
Workers back in Bundaberg
WHILE employers are still taking on more workers, Ms Watson understands farms are not facing the same shortages of the last few years.
In October 15,000 workers arrived in Australia, bringing the total of seasonal workers to 86,000.
But Ms Watson feels a shift to employing more locals has also helped the region's growers find a strong and consistent workforce.
"A lot of growers have changed tactics and they are employing a lot of locals as well," she said.
"That's good to see, they are finding ways to provide more sustainable employment for them.
"Not just that short term low skilled labour, they are seeing them as people to keep in the business, to up skill, to train them and keep them on the payroll."
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