Earlier this year, the UK Government abolished the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) for England and Wales and revoked the Agricultural Wages Order 2012. This means that from 1 October 2013 farmers in England will become subject to National Minimum Wage conditions.
However, in Wales the National Assembly passed the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Bill in order to preserve important aspects of existing regulatory regime for the employment of workers in Wales.
This means that in Wales the current status quo is being retained as agreed under the Agricultural Wages Order 2012. The only difference is that Grade 1 workers see a pay increase from £6.21 to £6.31 per hour, the current National Minimum Wage level.
Alun Davies said:
“I want to remind Welsh farmers and agricultural workers that despite changes in England, here in Wales we have taken action to continue the provisions of the 2012 Agricultural Wages Order.
“We are doing this to ensure continuity of a regime that is well known and well respected, and supports skills development and the longevity of the agricultural sector.
“Agriculture plays a vital role within the Welsh economy. I am committed to taking action that will further strengthen the sector and help to protect rural communities across Wales.”
The Agricultural Sector (Wales) Bill was passed by the National Assembly in July 2013. However the Attorney General in the UK Government subsequently decided to refer the Bill to the Supreme Court because he was unconvinced that the Bill was within the competence of the National Assembly.
The Welsh Government disagrees with the UK Government and maintains that the Bill is within the legislative competence of the Assembly. The UK Government has agreed to continue the agricultural wages regime in Wales beyond1 October until the Supreme Court makes its ruling Full guidance on this issue is available on the Welsh Government website.