Workplace Relations

2018 Visa changes

On Monday 5 November 2018, the government announced a raft of changes to Working Holiday Maker visas (subclass 417 and 462) and the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) to aid the labour-harnessing efforts of farmers during upcoming harvest seasons. The changes include the following:

  • 462 visa holders are now able to work in all of regional Australia rather than solely in northern Australia. These changes took effect on 5 November 2018.

  • The period which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the same agricultural employer has been lengthened from six to 12 months. These changes also took effect on 5 November 2018.

  •  The option of a third year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders will be available after 1 July 2019, after they have undertaken six months of specified work in a specified regional area during their second year. This change will likely be legislated during early 2019.

  • The age of eligible subclass 417 visa applicants from Canada and Ireland has been increased from 31 to 35. The government is continuing its engagement with other countries to secure similar arrangements.

  • The length of time workers under the SWP can work in Australia has been lengthened to nine months.

  • Reduction of upfront costs for employers under the SWP from $500 to $300 (in terms of the amount workers will repay through their wages).

New Casual Conversion Clause

Casual Employees will be give certain rights, if they meet certain criteria’s, to request to change to a full time or part time tenure, thus after surpassing a period of employment. Casual Conversion that is being introduced is new to most industries. These rights and responsibilities have not been around for very long. This takes effect from 1st of October 2018. Most if not all employers within Australia will be affected. VFF members should do the following:

  • From 1st October 2018 members should view their EBA or covering Modern Award, which sets out specific responsibilities they must follow and comply with.
  • Provide all future casual employees a copy of the conversion clause during the period of no more than 12 months from first shift.
  • Provide all current casual employees at 1st October 2018, a copy of the conversion clause by no later than 1st January 2019.

If you are confused or unsure of what is being advised or want more understand of procedure to introduce please call the Workplace Relations Team at the VFF on (03) 9207 5513.

2018 Annual Wage Review

Today the Fair Work Commission issued its decision to increase the minimum wage rates in the modern awards by 3.5%.

The national minimum wage will increase to $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour. This constitutes an increase of $24.30 per week to the weekly rate or 64c per hour to the hourly rate.

The new rate applies from the 1 July 2018.


Our Industrial Relations service offers a range of packages that include access to the highly acclaimed VFF Employment Handbook. Our handbook offers subscribers a guide for members on wage and allowance provisions for the following industries:

Dairy, Grains, Mixed Farming, Livestock, Shearing, Horticulture, Wine, Pigs, Eggs, Poultry, Clerical Workers, Retail, Transport, Storage & Wholesale, Trainees and many more!