Farm workers urged to know rights

THE Fair Work Ombudsman is encouraging fruit and vegetable pickers on the harvest trail - in particular foreign workers - to check their workplace entitlements.

Over the past two years about 230 complaints in the fruit picking sector were investigated and $80,000 was recovered for 107 workers. Approximately one third were visa holders - mostly working holiday makers.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said harvest workers can be vulnerable to exploitation, or inadvertent underpayments, because they're often not aware of what they should be receiving, or where to turn for information and advice.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is stepping up its effort to target these workers, with dedicated information on its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au with specific information and links to help pickers and harvest workers understand their entitlements.

It includes information about pay and entitlements, templates for piece rate agreements, and translated resources in Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean - the major source countries for working holiday makers to Australia

"Foreign workers looking to work on seasonal harvest work are big users of social media - either before they come to Australia or once they are here - so we hope that they make use of these resources to ensure they are well informed about their workplace entitlements in Australia," Ms James said.

A two-hour live question and answer session will take place on Facebook on October 23 where workers and employers can ask Fair Work advisors about pay and entitlements and employers can ask what they should be paying their staff.

Employers and employees can sign up to the event by pressing 'join' on the event link, which will then enable them to post their questions on the day.


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