Keen to do harvest work? Here’s some handy tips:
Pay rates and work conditions
Most pickers are paid on a ‘piece rate’ – generally based on volume picked. What can be earned depends on your ability, the size of the crop and the weather conditions. First time pickers may find it difficult to make wages initially, however picking is like any physical skill – you get faster the more you do.
For fruit packing and shed hand work, payment is usually by wages.
The majority of growers pay fortnightly. You will need a tax file number, proof of identity, an appropriate working visa and bank account details.
The rate of tax on your earnings will depend on your individual circumstances and current working arrangements. Your employer will subtract your tax from your wages. If you don’t provide an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) you will be taxed at the highest rate.
Tax File Numbers are available from the Australian Taxation Office – phone 132 861 or www.ato.gov.au
If you’re visiting Australia and want to work, you need a current Working Visa which are available from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship - phone 1800 040 070 or http://www.immi.gov.au/
Most harvest jobs require a reasonable level of physical fitness as jobs can involve climbing ladders, standing, kneeling or sitting while moving through the crop. Harvest work may be repetitious and tiring and can involve heavy and/or regular lifting.
Arriving on time for the season
Arriving in the area at the right time is extremely important. Being early means limited work and unless you have money and wish to be a tourist for a short while, don’t travel prior to work being available. Late arrival can mean only limited vacancies are available. We suggest you follow our website, facebook and Twitter sites to stay up to date with season news and information about job vacancies.
Mobile phone coverage
Mobile phone coverage is limited in some country areas and pay phones are generally not available outside of town limits.
Accommodation is in high demand during harvest season and may be fully booked out during peak times. Always check with Harvest Labour Service before travelling to the area to ensure accommodation is available and make it known if you have your own accommodation eg tent, caravan or campervan.
Some orchards have on-site accommodation, however availability may be limited. Most towns have caravan parks with camping grounds and a number of hotels and motels. It’s a great advantage to have your own camping and cooking equipment.
No animals or pets are allowed in caravan parks or orchards. Please check ahead if you are travelling with a pet or animal.
During Winter (June to August) you will need warm clothing as the weather is extremely cold. Bad weather also impacts on harvest as some crops cannot be picked after rain. If harvest is delayed, your income may be affected temporarily & we recommend you bring enough money to cover expenses for two weeks in case of delays.
Clothing, hats and sunscreen
For your safety while at work, you will be required to wear hard wearing clothing and footwear that will keep you covered and protected. Protection against the sun is a priority, a broad-brimmed hat is essential, use a sun screen cream with protection factor of at least 30+ and sunglasses are also recommended.
Keep hydrated and eat well
Harvesting crops is demanding work. The days can be long and hot, so a good supply of water is vital to prevent dehydration. A large water bottle and a suitable lunch every day is suggested. Eat well, pace yourself and get adequate amounts of rest each night for the day ahead.
Insects are not only annoying while picking, but can be venomous and carry diseases. Always use an effective insect repellent and apply it regularly to protect yourself.
Listen and follow instructions
Listen carefully. Always follow instructions given on the harvest and follow all health and safety procedures. Be careful when handling the harvest produce and only pick what you are directed. If in doubt, please ask!