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Piecework rates

A piecework rate is where an employee gets paid by the piece. It's based on the amount the employee has picked, packed, pruned or made.

Prior to 28 April 2022 an employer and an employee could enter into a piecework agreement for the employee to be paid a piecework rate.

Prior to 28 April 2022, an employee being paid piecework rates didn’t have a guaranteed minimum pay rate. Their earnings depended entirely on how productive they were. Pieceworkers were paid only for what they could pick, prune or pack.

What piecework agreements had to cover

To have complied with the Horticulture Award, a piecework agreement must have:

  • been in writing and signed by the employer and employee
  • been made without coercion or duress
  • set out the piecework rate
  • been kept by the employer as a time and wages records and a copy given to the employee.

There had to be a separate piecework agreement for each individual employee being paid a piecework rate. The piecework rate agreed had to be paid for all work performed in accordance with the piecework agreement.

Setting a piecework rate

The piecework rate set had to enable the ‘average competent employee’ to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the Horticulture Award, at the time the piecework agreement was entered, for the employee’s employment type and classification.

This meant that the piecework rate had to be set so that the hypothetical average competent employee could earn at least the above rate using the piecework rate.

The average competent employee was a hypothetical person who was an ordinary or typical competent employee. An employer needed to identify the average competent employee and their pick rate at the time the employer and employee entered into the piecework agreement.

Average competent employee

The factors used to assess the characteristics and pick rate of the average competent employee were similar to the factors currently used to assess piece rates. They’re set out in the Horticulture Showcase.

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Page reference No: K600697