Revisions to the Agricultural Wages Order brings changes for employers and workers in the sector

Scott McFarlane

Scott McFarlane

Employer Services Senior Manager

The revised Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Order No. 71 2024 (“the Order”) came into effect from 1 April 2024.

The Order provides those employers who operate within its remit with the detailed legal requirements for the calculation of minimum pay, certain allowances, holiday pay and other terms and conditions of the employment for agricultural workers in Scotland. The Order has to be written in the precise legal terms required to make it enforceable in law so careful attention to the legal aspects is very important.

With the introduction of the new Order, workers will see some significant increases across their pay, and coupled with the recent reduction in employee National Insurance Contributions (NIC), this will be a welcome overall increase to their net position. 

Employers in this sector may, however, feel these additional costs to employment a little more keenly given the increased pay levels and with the employer NIC contribution rate on these costs remaining at 13.8%. Further pressures on their operational costs, including utilities and fuel, will also mean that they will likely feel a squeeze and will no doubt be looking to ease this pressure, making it important as ever to consult with professional advisers.

High level overview of changes

The minimum hourly rate for workers rises in line with the recent changes to the top rate of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) moving from £10.42 to £11.44. This represents a 9.8% rise and applies to all workers regardless of age.

There is also an uplift for apprentices and this provides a similar 9.8% increase in the hourly rate from £6.53 to £7.17. 

Where a worker also holds certain qualifications –

  • a Scottish or National Vocational Qualification in an agricultural subject at SCQF Level 6 or above, or
  • an apprenticeship certificate approved by Lantra, (formerly ATB Landbase), or a certificate of acquired experience issued by ATB Landbase

- they will be entitled to an extra £1.71 on top of their basic.

As we also approach the longer days with the clocks moving forward, any qualifying overtime will now be payable at £17.16 an hour.

Other key points to consider

The daily rate of accommodation off-set for accommodation other than a house will move to £9.99. The accommodation off-set rate is used for National Minimum Wage (NMW) calculation purposes. This is a complex area of legislation with calculations being impacted dependent on deductions taken. Any actual deductions for rent / utilities etc for use of the accommodation should be taken from employees’ net pay.

The dog allowance will increase to £9.36 per week for each dog up to four dogs.

Holiday entitlement is also prescribed by the Order and the number of holidays due will depend on the number of days that an employee would be expected to work in the course of a regular working week.  Where the number of days worked varies from week to week, the average number of days worked per week over a 12-week period should be calculated.

No of days worked per weekNo of days holiday per year

In addition, two special holidays are set - being Christmas Day and New Years Day.

The Scottish Government link to the full guidance can be found here

Getting it right

In conclusion, care must be taken that the legal aspects of this Order have been considered in order for it to apply correctly and once it is in place, care also needs to be taken to make sure that employees receive exactly what they are entitled to. 

This extends to an employer’s own governance processes, to make sure that that all payments and allowances are correctly dealt with from a tax reporting perspective where required. Records must also be kept to ensure you can substantiate this should the relevant authorities ask the question in future.

Get in touch

If you have any queries about the new rules and how these impact you, please get in touch with our specialist Rural or Employer Services teams.

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