Hiring Farm Workers

A farm worker is employed in a farming, ranching, orchard or agricultural operation. Their main duties can include growing, planting, cultivating or harvesting agricultural products.

Farm owners or producers sometimes use workers through a licensed farm labour contractor. Even if farm workers work at different farms, they're the employees of the licensed farm labour contractor who hired them. If a farm producer uses a farm labour contractor that is not licensed, they may become the employer of the farm workers.

If you hire farm workers, you must:


Farm workers can be paid a piece rate, hourly rate or salary for their work


All farm workers must be paid at least twice a month. Their wages must be paid by direct deposit. Farm labour contractors and producers are held responsible for making sure that farm workers are paid.

Farm workers do not receive overtime or statutory holiday pay. Employers must not require or allow farm workers to work excessive hours that could harm their health or safety.

Farm workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) must be paid according to the SAWP contract.


Piece rate

Farm workers who harvest crops by hand can be paid a piece rate. They must be paid at least the minimum piece rate for the crop they're harvesting.

The calculation for piece rate work is: Piece rate x volume or weight picked.

Employers must post notices on-site that state what the piece rate is for each crop, the size of the picking containers and how much is needed to fill a container (i.e. volume or weight). They also need to provide a "picking card" for workers to record the total volume or weight that they pick.

Vacation pay is included in piece rates, except for daffodils.

Crop

Rate effective January 1, 2019

Apples

$21.06 per bin (27.1 ft3 / 0.767 m3)

Apricots

$24.23 per half bin (13.7 ft3 / 0.388 m3)

Beans

$0.289 per lb / $0.637 per kg

Blueberries

$0.488 per lb / $1.077 per kg

Brussels sprouts

$0.201 per lb / $0.443 per kg

Cherries

$0.277 per lb / $0.610 per kg

Grapes

$22.38 per half bin (13.7 ft3 / 0.388 m3)

Mushrooms

$0.290 per lb / $0.639 per kg

Peaches

$22.38 per half bin (12.6 ft3 / 0.357 m3)

Pears

$23.72 per bin (27.1 ft3 / 0.767 m3)

Peas

$0.360 per lb / $0.794 per kg

Prune plums

$23.72 per half bin (13.7 ft3 / 0.388 m3)

Raspberries

$0.440 per lb / $0.971 per kg

Strawberries

$0.424 per lb / $0.934 per kg

Daffodils

$0.169 per bunch (10 stems)


Hourly or salary wages

Farm workers that get paid hourly, by salary or by any other method must be paid at least the minimum wage. They also receive vacation time and pay.


Paying wages

Employees must be paid at least twice per month and within eight days after the end of each pay period.

Farm workers employed by farm labour contractors must be paid by direct deposit.


Farm workers are protected by specific rules


The Inter-Agency Agriculture Compliance Committee is a group of organizations that work together to protect the rights and safety of workers in the agriculture industry. The committee focuses on education, prevention and enforcement.

The Agriculture Compliance Team from the Employment Standards Branch is part of the inter-agency committee. Their role is to make sure that farm owners/producers and farm labour contractors follow the rules in the Employment Standards Act.


Inspections by the Agriculture Compliance Team

The Agriculture Compliance Team inspects vehicles used by farm labour contractors to transport workers and visits farms where work is being done. During farm visits, they observe operations, interview workers, review records and talk to farm labour contractors and the owner/producer. Visits are not scheduled. Refusing to allow the team to visit could result in being fined $500 to $10,000.

When the team arrives on-site, they will try to contact the farm owner/producer or manager to explain the purpose of the visit and show their government identification. The team will then enter the site to briefly interview employees and any representatives of the farm labour contractor on site. The team may request to see specific information including:

From the farm owner/producer:

  • Name and telephone number of the farm
  • Name of all farm labour contractors on site
  • Rate being paid to the farm labour contractor
  • Rate being paid to workers employed directly by the farm owner/producer
  • Records being kept for the work done by the farm labour contractor (e.g. how many workers the farm labour contractor brings each day and how many hours they work)
  • Confirmation that the farm owner/producer has reviewed the farm labour contractor’s licence
  • Number and ages of children under the age of 15 on site
  • A blank copy of the picking cards being used by workers
  • Payroll records for workers employed directly by the farm owner/producer

From the farm labour contractor:

  • Number of employees on site
  • Daily log
  • Number and ages of children under age 15 on site
  • Wage rate being paid
  • Vehicle registrations and inspection certificates, driver’s licences and safety notices
  • Payroll records for workers employed by the farm labour contractor

From farm workers:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • First day worked
  • Picking card number
  • Wage rate
  • How often wages are paid
  • Confirmation that wages are paid by direct deposit if employed by a farm labour contractor
  • Confirmation that vacation pay is properly calculated and paid if paid an hourly rate

For more information, contact the Employment Standards Agriculture Compliance Team at esb.compliance@gov.bc.ca.


What you can do

If you're a farm worker and your employer is not treating you right, see which government agencies can help.

If you're having issues at work, find out what you can do: