Including self-employed owners, around 120,000 people work in agricultural businesses, including farms. Around 80,000 of these people are employees.
Farms are generally small businesses that employ few staff on average. Many farms have no employees at all and are run by self-employed owners who bring in seasonal labour during busy times.
Farms are also very different to the typical office, shop or factory and there are major challenges faced by farmers, especially when attracting and retaining workers and considering how best to improve health and safety. These include working in isolated, large and often rugged geographic areas, working with machinery and animals, challenging weather conditions, farms being a workplace and a home, a high proportion of self-employed, and an ageing farmer demographic.
A number of developments are also making for increasingly complex employment relationships and a need for more formal systems and processes. This includes immigration requirements for migrant labour, scrutiny of farmers’ employment agreements, and the push to improve on-farm health and safety. For more on our position on these issues, click here.
To help farmers get through what can be a compliance minefield, Federated Farmers provides an employment advisory service for our members and produces a suite of materials for its members, including individual employment agreements.