Federated Farmers believes that policy and legislation for employment arrangements, such as the Employment Relations Act, the Minimum Wage Act, and the Holidays Act, need to recognise modern work practices, where flexibility is increasingly valued both by the employer and the employee. Compliance costs should be kept down, otherwise it can be too much of a hassle to employ someone, while ensuring that employees are fairly and appropriately compensated for their work.
Education and Skills
Farming is a great career and lifestyle option and Federated Farmers strongly supports initiatives to attract into the agricultural sector skilled, qualified and motivated New Zealanders from all walks of life. Unfortunately there are perceptions that farming and farm work is unskilled, low-paid, and unpleasant. These perceptions are becoming less and less relevant in the modern farming environment but they tend to linger.
More needs to be done to promote farming as a career and to ensure that young people have the opportunity to learn and develop the skills required by the industry.
Exploitation of workers should have no place in the agricultural sector and breaches of minimum employment standards should be enforced.
Many agricultural positions are in shortage and it will take time to bring more skilled and motivated young people into the industry. In the meantime farmers need to be able to access migrant labour to fill these shortages and immigration policy needs to facilitate this.
Unfortunately, there are many costly and complicated hurdles that farmers need to negotiate to bring in and then retain a migrant worker. In particular it is a waste to the farm employer and to New Zealand that many migrants who develop valuable skills and experience in their time on a New Zealand farm find it difficult to stay longer-term or permanently.