Seven Mile Beach, Broken Head

“Bold and Excellent”

What’s a jackaroo to do?

Catchwords: Industrial law, employment, jackaroo, jillaroo, Pastoral Award 2010, farm and livestock hand, station hand, piggery attendant, apprenticeships, training, AWU

In the bush, the term jackaroo or jillaroo is as common at the kangaroo itself. But in black letter law, there is no award for the job of jackaroo in Australia.

The Pastoral Award 2010  binds employers and employees in the “pastoral  industry” in Australia to the award. The National Employment Standards [“NES”] also apply. This includes all employers and employees engaged in or in connection with 4.2(a) the management, breeding, rearing or grazing of livestock or poultry; (b) the shearing and crutching of sheep and the classing and pressing of wool on farms; (c) dairying (d) hatchery work; (e) the sowing, raising or harvesting of broadacre field crops and other crops grown as part of a broadacre mixed farming enterprise; (f) the treatment of land for any of these purposes; or (g) clearing, fencing, well sinking, dam sinking or trenching on such farms or properties except in connection with work in clauses 4.3(a) to (e).

The exclusions are being (a) the wine industry; (b) silviculture and afforestation except where carried on as a part of a broadacre mixed farming enterprise; (c) sugar farming or sugar cane growing, sugar milling, sugar refining, sugar distilleries and/or sugar terminals; (d) the horticulture industry, as defined in the Horticulture Award 2010; or (e) any work in or in connection with the production and processing of fish, aquaculture and marine products.

The award creates legally enforceable rights and obligations in employing “farm and livestock hands”.

There is award flexibility, whereby employer and employee, once started,  can agree in writing to vary terms as to hours of work, overtime rates, penalty rates, allowances and leave loading, provided there is no coercion and the employee is better off [Clause 7]

The minimum current rates of pay for “farm and livestock hand” reduced to an hourly rate for a 38 hour week  as at 1 July 2014 range from Level 1 at $16.87, Level 5 at $18.34 to Level 8 at $21.10.

A minimum of 3 hours is required for a rostered part-time work provided the work has “reasonably predictable hours of work”.  All work in excess of the agreed hours is overtime. If the work does not meet the definition of “part-time” then it is deemed to be “casual” and at the casual rates with a loading of 25%. and a three (3) hours  minimum also applies , with the exception of a pieceworker.

A Level 1 farm and livestock hand includes a station hand with less than 12 months experience in the industry or a cattle farm worker Grade A supervised;  Level 2 includes a cattle farm worker Grade B who does Grade A but works unsupervised most of the time or a feed lot employee with more than 3 months experience ;  Level 3 farm and livestock hand is a station hand with at least 12 months up;  Level 4 farm and livestock hand  is a feed lot employee with at least two years’ experience; Level 5 farm and livestock hand includes a “senior” station hand with 2 years experience; Level 6 farm and livestock hand includes a feedlot employee level 3 with experience of at least 2 years; Level 7 farm and livestock hand   includes a Senior Dairy operator grade 1, a Feedlot employee level 4 with Certificate III qualifications; Level 8 farm and livestock hand includes a senior dairy operator grade 2.

Pig Breeding and Raising have different classifications. “Piggery attendants” have Levels of 1 to 5 and then “Senior Piggery Attendant” Level 6 and 7.  The rates at 1 July 2014 are Level 1 $16.87, Level 5 $19.12 and Level 7, $20.25. There are also separate classifications for Poultry and Shearing operations.

All hours worked in excess of the 38 hours are overtime, for which the employer must either pay for, or at the employee’s election take paid time off in lieu, by time and a half, or double time of Sundays (excluding feeding/watering stock at time and a half). For Piggery Attendants it is time and a half for the first 2 hours, then double time after that, whether during the week or the weekend.

Overtime must be claimed within two (2) weeks of the work, or next pay day, whichever is later.

The maximum deduction for keep is $119.35  a week; or accommodation and power without keep as agreed.

For full or part time, notice of termination is as per the NES, but on either side is required or pay in lieu thereof.

Non-attendance for duty, outside the award, is unpaid.

There are multiple different allowances available.

But are jackaroos really “farm and livestock hands” or “station hands? Nowhere in the Fair Work Act , or in the Pastoral Award, is the term “jackaroo” defined.

However, the Pastoral Award 2010 supports a National Training Wage Schedule within the AQF, the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Previously, under the old State award, Pastoral Employees State Consolidated Award (NSW)  trainee station hands, of the jackaroo variety, who were not shearers, were excluded and ignored. Under the same award, one trainee had the advantage of the full apprenticeship system, the other did not. Instead, trainee station hands of the jackaroo variety are hived off to a separate award, the Rural Traineeships (State) Consolidated Award 1999 – Award Code 449. One objective of the old Pastoral Employees Award was to ensure its provisions didn’t  operate to discriminate. Yet the award did not provide a full on farm apprenticeship system to young jackaroos who were not learner shearers.

The modern award is much fairer for young pastoralists. There is a choice of a full-time apprenticeship based on 38 hours per week, with 20% of hours on approved training; or part time traineeship with 20% of hours being approved training solely on-the-job or partly on-the-job and partly off, or where training is fully off-the-job (Clause C.4).

If you want a copy of  the award, you can download a copy here from Fair Work. If you need help the AWU (The Australian Workers Union) 1300 885 653  is a great help to young jackaroos starting out in the pastoral industry. You can also contact  your local solicitor, or local Member of Parliament.

Jonathan de Vere Tyndall

Updated 31 March 2015, originally published in The Land on 7 September 2000

Editors note: The articles published contain comment only and not legal advice, for which you should retain a solicitor. No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of the contents.