Wages Board Proposes New Rates

Following the annual meeting of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board (SAWB) yesterday (Wednesday 8 June) it is being proposed that the minimum agricultural wage increases by 2.5% from 1 October 2011 and that agricultural workers be given an extra day’s holiday. The SAWB will meet again on 19 August to decide whether its proposals for increases in wage rates from 1 October 2011 will go ahead.

NFU Scotland’s Policy Director, Scott Walker said:

“We recognise that this is a difficult time for agricultural employees as the cost of living is rising steeply. Most farmers who have employees only employ a small number of staff with whom they work very closely and all involved will likely have a good understanding of the financial position of the business and its ability to pay any wage increase.

“Farm businesses have to deal with considerable volatility in terms of input and running costs, and yet the supply chain dictates the cost of the goods they sell. This means that many farm businesses operate on a wafer thin margin.

“This year the SAWB, in taking into account the situation within agriculture and the wider economy, has, in NFU Scotland’s view, come to a reasonable conclusion. Minimum wage rates are proposed to increase by 2.5% and an extra day’s holiday is to be given to all employees. Given the overall position within the industry and the rising costs faced by employees, this is a fair and reasonable outcome.

“Yesterday’s meeting considered the particular problems facing the soft fruit and field vegetable sector, which saw many of its enterprises ravaged in recent storms, causing millions of pounds worth of damage which will have to be borne directly by producers. While the ‘up-to-26-week’ rate of pay stays above that of the National Minimum Wage, the proposal is to keep the difference at 3 pence.

“NFU Scotland welcomed the SNP Government’s commitment in its Farming Manifesto to review the Agricultural Wages Board, in line with NFU Scotland’s own manifesto request to reform the wages board so that its purpose is to develop training and improve health and safety in the industry.”


  • The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board comprises 17 members, with six representing the interests of employers nominated by the National Farmers Union of Scotland and the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association, six representing the interests of workers nominated by Unite the Union, and five independent members appointed by Scottish Ministers, one of whom is designated Chair.

The proposed minimum hourly rates of pay from the 1 October 2011 are:

  • The basic rate of pay for agricultural workers with more than 26 weeks continuous employment will increase by 16p per hour from £6.51 to £6.67.   This is an increase of 2.5%.
  • The basic rate of pay for agricultural workers in their first 26 weeks of employment will increase by 15p per hour from £5.96 to £6.11.   This is an increase of 2.5%.
  • For new employees undertaking an apprenticeship in agriculture (Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture) the basic rate of pay for the first 12 months will increase by 9p per hour from £3.61 to £3.70.   This is an increase of 2.5%.
  • Workers who have been with the same employer for more than 26 weeks and who hold a Scottish (or National) Vocational Qualification in an agricultural subject at Level III or above should be paid an additional £1.01 per hour.   This is an increase from £0.99 per hour and equivalent to a 2.5% increase.


  • The total number of holidays is to be increased by one day per year.   In addition, changes are made to the number of special days and the number of holiday entitlements that make up the total number of holidays for an agricultural employee.
  • Total holidays will be 30 days comprising 28 days holiday and two special days, which are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


Contact Sarah Anderson on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 99/11

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