Minimum wage for farm workers in the North increased

The minimum wage for farm workers in Northern Ireland is set to be increased, according to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Aural Affairs (DAERA).

It has been confirmed that changes to pay for agricultural workers in the North will come into effect on April 1, 2017.

At a meeting of the Agricultural Wages Board for Northern Ireland (AWB), the board increased minimum rates for agricultural workers across all grades by 1.75%.

The changes to the minimum rates of pay will represent a pay increase of between 12p/hr (14c/hr) and 17p/hr (20c/hr), depending on which grade the worker falls into.

The new rates are:
  • Grade 1 – Minimum rate, applicable for the first 40 weeks cumulative employment – £6.88/hr (€8.01/hr).
  • Grade 2 – Standard worker: £7.17/hr (€8.35/hr).
  • Grade 3 – Lead worker: £7.88/hr (€9.17/hr).
  • Grade 4 – Craft Grade: £8.46/hr (€9.85/hr).
  • Grade 5 – Supervisory Grade: £8.95/hr (€10.42/hr).
  • Grade 6 – Farm Management Grade: £9.70/hr (€11.29/hr).

These are the minimum hourly rates that must be paid to farm workers in Northern Ireland, before tax and national insurance deductions are taken into account, according to DAERA.

If, at any stage, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW) become higher than the hourly rates set out above, then the minimum rate shall be equal to the NMW or NLW, it added.

Overtime, work carried out after the regulated 39 hours, will be applied at a minimum of time and a half, DAERA said.

The AWB meets each year to consider changes to the rates of pay and related conditions for agricultural workers.

The board comprises six members of Unite (trade union), six members of the Ulster Farmers’ Union and three members appointed by DAERA.

Similar increases in the Republic of Ireland

At the beginning of this year, the NMW in the Republic of Ireland increased to €9.25/hour; this represented an increase of 10c/hr compared with 2016.

The plans to increase the NMW were announced in last October’s budget.

An experienced adult worker is an employee who is over the age of 18 and is not in their first two years of employment since turning 18.

The rate change came following a recommendation by the Low Pay Commission on July 19, which was approved by the Government and announced in the budget for 2017.