Minimum wage change for farm workers?

Generic Farming on West Fortune Farm, East Lothian.'Farm workers plough the fields and harvest the vegetables'Pic Neil Hanna'tractors'harvest'ploughing
Generic Farming on West Fortune Farm, East Lothian.'Farm workers plough the fields and harvest the vegetables'Pic Neil Hanna'tractors'harvest'ploughing

MSP for South Scotland Paul Wheelhouse has asked the farming sector to take part in a consultation on a proposal to raise the minimum wage for agricultural workers.

If approved, the new minimum wage with more than 26 weeks continuous employment will increase by 10p per hour to £7.24 from October 1. This would bring the minimum wage for a 39 hour week to £282.36.

Local views are now being sought on this proposed increase, which is in line with increases to the National Minimum Wage.

The consultation period ends on June 30.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Given the importance of agriculture to the economy of the Scottish Borders, this proposed minimum wage increase has the potential to positively affect many agricultural workers across the region.

“It is particularly important in the face of further austerity from Westminster, where many families are feeling the pinch, that anyone in the region is paid a decent wage and agricultural workers should be no exception to that.

“I would hope that, where they can afford to do so, employers pay more than the minimum wage and indeed aim to pay at least the living wage of £7.85 per hour, but these measures are important in setting a floor below which wages will not fall.

“I would ask anyone with an interest in this issue to take part in the public consultation before it closes at the end of June.”

The proposed headline minimum hourly rates are:

• £6.70 for all workers in the first 26 weeks of employment. This increase of 20p per hour is in line with increases to the National Minimum Wage. For overtime, the minimum hourly rate should rise to £10.05 (an increase of 30p per hour);

• £7.24 (an increase of 10p per hour) for all workers employed for more than 26 weeks by the same employer. For overtime, the minimum hourly rate should rise to £10.86 (an increase of 15p per hour);

• £4.02 (an increase of 6p per hour) for workers who undertake a Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture;

• An additional £1.10 per hour (an increase of 2p per hour) for those workers with appropriate qualifications.

People working with dogs would receive an allowance of £5.49 per week for each dog (an increase of 8p per dog) up to a maximum of four dogs. The daily rate of the accommodation, off-set for accommodation other than a house, would rise to £5.35 per day (an increase of 34p per day) which is in line with the National Minimum Wage rate.

The consultation can be accessed online by visiting www.gov.scot/Consultations/Current.