NI ag workers’ pay increase: What you need to know

Plans to up the agricultural minimum wage in Northern Ireland have been given the green light.

The pay increase for agricultural workers was approved by the Agricultural Wages Board for Northern Ireland (AWB) and will see the minimum wage for agricultural workers for grades 2 to 6 increase by 3.5%.

The changes will be effective from April 1, 2018 and will also see the accommodation offset rise to a maximum of £37 a week.

How much should you be paying?

From April onwards the new agricultural minimum wage rates will be:

Minimum rate, applicable for the first 40 weeks of cumulative employment: £6.88 per hour;
Grade 2: Standard worker – £7.42 per hour;
Grade 3: Lead worker – £8.16 per hour;
Grade 4: Craft grade – £8.76 per hour;
Grade 5: Supervisory grade – £9.26 per hour;
Grade 6: Farm management grade – £10.04 per hour.

Currently, a standard farm worker (grade 2) is entitled to £7.17 an hour, while the minimum wage for farm management grade is £9.70 an hour.

What about overtime and holidays?

When overtime is to be applied after 39 hours of work, it will be applied at a minimum of time and a half.

Workers employed for 52 weeks or more are entitled to up to 29 holiday days, made up of 28 days’ leave (proportionate to the number of days worked per week) plus one public holiday.

In situations where the Government’s National Living Wage is higher than the agricultural minimum wage band applicable, the higher of the two must be paid.

Change over a decade

In 2009, agricultural wage rates in Northern Ireland were £6.19 for standard workers rising to £8.29 for farm management grade employees.

The same year the national minimum wage for all workers over 21 sat at £5.73.

The latest changes are specified in the board’s Order No. 98 meaning they will be a legal requirement.

The board which makes decisions on the wage comprises six members of Unite the Union, six members of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, and three members appointed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Further details are available on the DAERA website.