What every farmer needs to know about hiring backpackers.

What every farmer needs to know about hiring backpackers.

We realise legislation is changing quickly surrounding backpackers and it can be a bit confusing to stay up to date. Use this information as a guide only, as you might need to seek professional advice. Under Fairwork your legal responsibilities for hiring backpackers are the same as employing any other person.

  • What are the requirements for employing casual staff? The legal requirements for employing casual staff (including backpackers) are the same as employing any other person. Casual staff do not get sick leave nor do they accrue annual leave, so they are paid at a higher rate than full time and part time employees.

  • What visa should they hold? A "backpacker" is one that has entered Australia on a visa subclass 417 or visa subclass 462.

  • How can I check what visa the backpacker is on? And if they have the right to work?Prior to commencing employment it is a good idea to check with VEVO. This is the Visa Entitlement Verification Online service of the Australia Border Protection.
  • How do I register to be an employer of a backpacker with the ATO? As at January 1, 2017 anyone wishing to employ a backpacker must register with the ATO. You can register here using the employer registration tool provided by the ATO.

  • How do I tax a backpacker? According to the ATO here on February 2, 2017- The 15% tax rate only applies to salary and wages paid from 1 January 2017. You must register to withhold at this rate.If you don't register, you must use the foreign resident withholding rates which start at 32.5% for the first $37,000. Penalties apply if you employ a working holiday maker with visa subclass 417 or 462 and you don't register as an employer of working holiday makers.

  • What is the award  farm workers? As of July 1, 2016 there was a state award for farm workers in Western Australia. You can find the details here. However, your business structure whether sole trader, company, or trust will affect the award applicable to your business.

  • Can I end the employment without notice? Casual staff can be terminated without notice if they are not covered by an award of agreement. However, assuming you are employing a backpacker for the purpose of farm work in Western Australia they will be covered under the WA Farm Employees award in which 1 weeks notice is required prior to termination. 

  • How do I trial an employee without needing to give them 1 weeks notice? A casual contract stating the length of employment is the best method forward. You can renew the contract after the trial has ended.