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Frequently Asked Questions


Farming Industry Questions

Getting Started

What should I write in a job advertisement?

Advertising your employment opportunities can help you find a suitable person to fill your staffing needs. How you advertise the job will affect who applies for it. Job ads should be based on the Position Description and include:

– a brief description of your farm
– the job title and status
– a brief description of duties
– any required skills, qualifications, certificates, or experience
– your contact information
– how to apply for the job and a closing date for applications.

How do I create a position description?

A position, or job description (often referred to as a PD) is a statement that explains the requirements of a job. Writing a position description will help identify the skills and traits you want the new employee to have.

Position descriptions should include:

– job title and location
– duties, responsibilities and tasks
– what you need the person to do, who they are in charge of and who they report to
– required skills, qualifications, licenses, certificates, and experience
– other requirements – such as physical demands of the job
– your expectations – such as production targets
– any benefits – such as accommodation, meals, or training
– the type of employment – whether the position is full-time, part-time, or casual

Don’t include anything that isn’t necessary for the job such as gender, age or family responsibilities. Not only will you be limiting the people who will apply for the job, but it could be discrimination and break the law.

What should I ask a prospective employee at an interview?

Behavioural interviewing is based on the principle that past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Asking the candidate questions about how they behaved in the past is a good way of predicting how they will behave in the future.

Effective behavioural interviewing asks questions in a non-threatening, structured way. This encourages candidates to talk about what actually happened in selected situations, what they did, how they thought and felt.

Information that should be collected from the candidate’s answer includes:

• the situation or task;
• the action taken by the candidate; and
• the result or outcome

Managing my Ag career

How do I plan my Ag career?

Taking the long term view of your career is important if you are to get the most out of your professional journey the Agricultural industry.

The key elements of career planning are:

Goal Setting: you won’t know how to succeed in your career until you know where you want to be. Setting long and short term financial and life goals are key to staying in control of your career path.

Mentors and Advisors: the simplest and most effective way to get where you want to be is to find people who are there already, and find out how they did it.

Training and Professional Development:Undertaking courses and obtaining relevant licences will improve your ability to find high paid work. Talk to your employer about making time to up-skill in the areas that are most valuable to them.

How do I find a Mentor ?

Mentoring helps the mentee approach new situations with confidence, having talked through options and possible consequences. It is more about asking the right questions and listening, rather than giving the right answers. Mentoring is not only an effective way of sharing experience but also the transfer of technical skills and experience.

Using senior staff as mentors is a great way of recognising their knowledge and experience within the industry without necessarily promoting them to a position as a supervisor.

How do I retain my staff?

In addition to a competitive salary, people value a challenging and rewarding workplace. Factors that can help create a positive working environment with a good work life balance including:

– a clear avenue for Career Development

– feeling valued and part of a team

– a Safe Working Environment

– feeling supported in developing skills and knowledge through Training

– Reasonable and fair working hours and conditions.

Managing People

How do I perform a Performance Appraisal?

It is important to have regular, structured performance appraisals to make sure your employees are all working effectively towards the running of the business. Having said this, the importance of informal appraisals should not be overlooked. A quick chat about a new policy or procedure, a conversation over lunch about working hours, or a discussion about the direction of the farm can be just as important in making sure your employees are on the right track and are managing a good work-life balance.

Following through on appropriate actions or suggestions that come from these informal appraisals shows your employees that you listen to them and value their opinions on the farm. See more about communication and recognition and reward in the “Working Together” section.

How do I train my employees?

Apprenticeships and traineeships are formal training arrangements between an employer and an employee. They combine work with study for a qualification, certificate or diploma.

They can be full-time, part-time or school-based. Anyone who’s old enough to work is able to sign up for an apprenticeship or traineeship. There are wide variations of arrangements, particularly around pay, support and time off.

The training has to be registered and recognised by your state or territory training authority. They decide which qualifications are apprenticeships and which are traineeships.

For more information see the “How do I train and grow my team?” section

Health and safety – where do I start?

In addition to the obvious reasons for maintaining a safe environment for employees, contractors, family, visitors, and members of the public, there are also legal obligations when looking at health and safety in the workplace.

Farm businesses who don’t act to fulfil health and safety responsibilities face significant fines and penalties. Use the farm health and safety overview checklist as a starting point for working out what you need to do to make your farm safer.

Recruiting - General Questions

How can I induct new staff into my business?

Take your time to introduce your new employee to your workplace and their job. An induction checklist will help you remember the important things to cover during the induction. These include:
– paperwork, such as completing an employee details form
– rosters, time sheets, and applying for Leave
– terms and conditions of employment – position description and employment contract
– farm policies and systems (see Safety for more information)
– a copy of The Fair Work Information Statement and The National Employment Standards Introduction (See Awards section for more information)
– OH&S procedures
– farm tour and general information
– introductions to farm staff (explaining their roles and responsibilities), contractors, suppliers, owners and management
– a walk-through of specific job tasks
– a copy of the farm’s Code of Conduct

If you are engaging someone as an independent contractor, you need to manage the risks to their health and safety as you would for any other person working on your farm. Use the Contractors Checklist as a check for yourself and an induction for the contractor.

Employment contract, agreement or IFA?

An Employment Contract can be verbal or written but it is preferable that it be written so that each party is clear about the terms and conditions which apply. Employment contracts can provide terms which are more beneficial than the award or the National Employment Standards but they should not contain terms which are less favourable. For example, if a contract has a base rate of pay that is lower than the minimum pay rate for that classification in the award, then the award terms will apply regardless of what the contract says. See the section “How do I Employ Someone ?” for contract templates and more information.

An Enterprise Agreement is a formal document which is between you and your employees or a group of employees. The content of the enterprise agreement must be discussed with employees and you are required to give consideration to their views. Enterprise agreements must be assessed and approved by the Fair Work Commission Employees must be Better Off Overall under an agreement than they would be under the relevant award and agreements cannot exclude the 10 minimum conditions in the NES. Enterprise agreements must have an expiry date of no more than four years from the date of approval of the agreement by the Fair Work Commission. If you are thinking of introducing an enterprise agreement into your workplace, see the FWC’s step by step guide to making a single enterprise agreement. You can also access, or apply to vary, existing agreements.

Individual Flexibility Agreements: All modern awards and enterprise agreements contain a ‘flexibility term’ that lets you adjust the award or agreement to best meet the needs of an individual employee. Individual flexibility arrangements (IFA’s) in the modern awards will only allow IFAs to vary arrangements for when work is performed, overtime rates, penalty rates, allowances, and leave loading. All conditions in the Individual Flexibility Agreement must pass the BOOT test and be agreed on by employee. You cannot force someone to enter into an IFA and it cannot be made as a condition of employment. You can send an employee a letter of offer for an IFA using the template provided.

How do I make a formal offer of employment?

You should send a formal offer of employment via post or email. With the letter of offer, you will need to include a copy of the Employment Contract and Position Description

To save time, you might want to call the candidate first to confirm that they are still interested in the position before sending the formal offer.

Don’t tell candidates that they haven’t been successful until your preferred candidate has formally accepted the offer of employment. Your first choice might get another offer or may not be able to accept the position for some reason. You may need to make an offer to your second choice.