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On 1 April 2023, the Agricultural Wages (Wales) Order 2023 (“AWO 2023”) came into force and revoked and replaced the Agricultural Wages (No 2) (Wales) Order 2022.

What is the AWO 2023? 

The minimum rates of pay and allowances and other minimum terms and conditions to which agricultural workers, including those who work within the horticulture and forestry sectors, are entitled to by law from 1 April 2023 are set out in the AWO 2023. 

Who does the AWO 2023 apply to? 

AWO 2023 applies to all agricultural, horticultural and forestry workers employed in Wales. 

It is worth noting that under the provisions of the AWO 2023 an agricultural worker means a person employed in agriculture in Wales, whether or not the whole of the work undertaken by virtue of that employment is undertaken in Wales. This is something those employers who are based partly in Wales and partly in England will need to consider. 

What do employers need to be aware of with respect to the AWO 2023?

There are a number of changes brought in by the AWO 2023 which are outlined below.

Changes to the definition of 'employee'

The definition of "employee” now includes agency workers and workers employed by gang masters, who may not have a contract of service directly with the employer.

Minimum wage rates increased again

AWO 2023 increased again the minimum wage rates payable to different categories of worker. For example, a year 1 apprentice's hourly rate has increased from £4.81 to £5.28 and an agricultural worker's (23+) hourly rate has increased from £9.79 to £10.74. It is a criminal offence to not pay agricultural workers at least the agricultural minimum wage.

Clarity on overtime rates

Overtime rates have also been clarified. The definition of what overtime is has been set as any time worked in addition to 8 hours in any day, beyond the hours specified in their contract of service, and on a public or bank holiday. It is stipulated that an agricultural worker must be remunerated at least 1.5 times their usual pay during this overtime. 

Amendments to annual leave

The wording regarding annual leave year periods has been amended so that both employer and worker can agree a holiday year that is different from the default of 1 October to 30 September. The wording regarding the calculation of holiday for those workers with variable hours has also been amended to clarify that the correct method to use is the Calendar Week Method i.e. calculating the worker’s holiday entitlement and pay by reference to an average over the previous 52 weeks. 

However, any weeks in which no remuneration was payable to the agricultural worker should be excluded from the 52 week reference period and earlier weeks taken into account.

Contact our employment lawyers

The above is a summary of some key changes and there are other provisions in the AWO 2023 that employers should consider. If you would like to discuss any employment matter in relation to agricultural workers, please contact a member of our Employment Law team by completing the form below.

Key Contact

Jennifer Gibson

Jennifer Gibson

Employment Law Senior Associate Solicitor

Jennifer is a Senior Associate Solicitor and has extensive experience in advising employer clients on a range of day-to-day Human Resources issues.

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