Colin Hall BTF Partnership

Colin Hall, BTF Partnership

An agricultural and horticultural employment law specialist is urging employers to check their contract terms ahead of the Agricultural Wages Order (AWO) abolition later this year.

From 1 October the national minimum wage (NMW) will apply for agricultural workers as the AWO is abolished, but Colin Hall, partner at the BTF Partnership and director of the 50 Club Horticultural Employers’ Association, warns that with further technical details still being awaited, producers should check all their employment contracts now. He explained: “The implications of AWO abolition on individual employees will depend entirely upon the status of the employee at the time and the contractual terms applying to him or her.

'It is likely existing employees engaged prior to 1 October with no specific contractual provisions reserving the right to amend following AWO abolition will broadly continue with the same entitlements. For others, however, such as those more recently employed with a specific contractual provision reserving the employer’s right to amend their contractual terms following abolition of the AWO, or those employed on or after 1 October, the implications are greater.”

From 1 October, the employee may not automatically be entitled to AWO enhancements such as increased pay rates over and above the NMW, overtime, maximum deduction for a house, bereavement entitlements and enhanced holiday (31 days instead of 28 days).

Hall added: “Employers need to be careful between now and 30 September that any employees taken on receive a contract of employment that makes it clear what their entitlements are and review any existing contracts and seek advice if in doubt.”