Farm businesses, like all employers, must calculate the number of workers in their company on the basis of the 12 months of the reference period and fulfil their pay equity obligations.
However, some differences in working conditions apply to farm workers.
The employer has the same rights and obligations toward farm workers as toward other workers.
A farm worker performs tasks of an agricultural nature on a farming operation. To be considered a farm worker, a person must be involved in working the soil or land for the production of plants or the raising of animals.
For example, sowing, tending plants and harvesting fruit on a farm is considered farm work.
The maintenance and repair of machinery used for raising animals or for the production, sale or delivery of cultivated products is not considered farm work.
Farm work hours are paid at the base wage rate, even after 40 hours a week. The employer does not have to pay overtime at time and a half (50%).
However, if the farm worker is assigned to non-farm tasks, overtime must be paid at time and a half.
The overtime to be paid is determined on the basis of the task performed from the 41st hour of work per week. Farm work is paid at a single rate. Non-farm work (such as maintaining machinery or selling products at market) is paid at time and a half.
In a single week, Manuel worked 44 hours harvesting the fields. He then worked 5 hours in machinery maintenance, for a total of 49 hours.
Hours worked harvesting the fields are considered farm work. Manuel will therefore receive his base hourly wage for the first 40 hours worked, and for the 41st to the 44th hour.
Hours worked after the 44th hour, from the 45th to the 49th hour, will be considered overtime spent on non-farm tasks. These 5 hours will have to be paid at time and a half.
Weekly rest period
The employer must give workers a weekly rest period of 32 hours. In the case of a farm worker, this rest period may be postponed to the following week if the farm worker agrees.
The rest period may be postponed once. In this case, the employer must give 2 rest periods of 32 consecutive hours the following week.
Wages for strawberry and raspberry picking
Strawberry and raspberry picking is paid on a piecework basis.
If the picker does not reach the minimum wage because the state of the fields or fruit adversely affects their work, the employer must pay the difference between what they earned with the piecework rate and the minimum wage rate.
Right to refuse to work
The right to refuse to work beyond a certain number of hours applies to farm workers.
However, a farm worker may not refuse to work solely because they were not informed of their work schedule at least 5 days in advance.
Canning, packaging, freezing of fruits and vegetables
During the harvest period, overtime for workers assigned to canning, packaging and freezing fruits and vegetables is paid at a single rate.
Special conditions apply to temporary foreign workers hired under the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).