Labour incentives: What you need to know
From 1 December, all job seekers participating in employment service programs will be immediately eligible for the Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job (RATTUAJ) program.
RATTUAJ is an Australian Government program that assists eligible participants to relocate to take up an offer of employment. Relocation assistance helps participants accept work outside of their area by removing the financial barriers that can prevent people relocating.
From 1 November, relocation assistance will be available to people who relocate to harvest and regional areas to take up short-term agricultural work, including Australians who are not receiving income support and those with the right to work in Australia:
- $3,000 if person relocates to a capital city.
- $6,000 if person relocates to a regional area.
- An extra $3,000 if person relocates with a dependent.
If person relocates to take up short-term agricultural work, they may be eligible to receive up to:
- $6,000 if person is an Australian worker.
- $2,000 migrant workers (if person is a visa holder with the right to work in Australia).
Job seekers can get relocation assistance if they move to take up any ongoing work including an apprenticeship, or if they move to a harvest or regional area to take up short-term agricultural work.
The program will be administered by the Harvest Trail Service Providers (HTSPs), which are listed state-by-state here.
However, as the HTSPs are engaged by government to assist with jobs in specific regions (which do not cover all of the country) The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) will shortly announce a provider to deal with horticultural areas outside of the 16 regions (e.g. MADEC).
RATTUAJ employee eligibility details:
- In order to be eligible, an individual must perform 120 hours and six weeks work in an agricultural job at a location which is outside a “capital city” (as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) and more than 90 minutes (by usual mode of transport) from their home.
- There can be gaps in employment and there can be multiple employers. Meaning, for example, if a person in Sydney travels to Orange and works for four weeks, has a one week gap, then starts working with another employer, then the first four weeks of work counts, the next week does not, and then they will be eligible to receive the incentives two weeks into their second job.
- If a second/subsequent employer is in another region, then the individual would be able to claim the cost of moving between regions; e.g. they can seek reimbursement for the cost of moving from Sydney to Orange, Orange to Young, and Young to Sydney (although they should line up the job before moving between regions).
Before commencing travel for or commencing work the HSTP should be the individual’s first point of contact:
- The individual must have accepted a formal (documented) offer of employment with a farm business; note that they can reach out to an HTSP if they are looking for work.
- The individual must have made contact with and entered into a relocation agreement with the relevant HTSP.
- The HTSP can also assist with finding employment (e.g. if the job which the individual arranged for themselves does not run for the full six weeks), accommodation, and potentially means of travel, etc.
- The reimbursement can cover travel (by any mode, including car rental, petrol, airfare, etc.), accommodation (up to two months’ rent) and could also cover some employment related expenses (such as PPE equipment and tools) in some instances.
- The eligibility criteria for migrant workers is the same, albeit with the different dollar thresholds. The worker needs to show that the job will be more than 90mins from where they are currently staying.
- Workers will need to provide evidence of spending (i.e. receipts) and they will only be reimbursed for what they have spent; e.g. if they spend $3,600 on travel and accommodation then that is what they be reimbursed. However, where the worker can demonstrate a genuine hardship there may be scope for the payments to be made directly to the supplier (i.e. the hotel) or for upfront payments to be made.
The guidelines are now available on the DESE website.
Specific guidelines for the HTSPs will be listed on the Harvest Trail website.
Apple & Pear Australia Lid (APAL) took a look at the harvest labour support that is available to each state to attract domestic workers in each state. Note that for the purposes of this article, only incentives for domestic workers have been considered:
The following factsheets provide further information on the program:
Payments of up to $1,500 to assist with accommodation and transport costs associated with travelling and staying in remote locations, as part of the Seasonal Worker Funding Package.
The package will initially target employment opportunities in Wide Bay and Darling Downs, but may be available to other areas further down the track.
There are currently no state-specific labour incentives available for workers in Tasmania, however those who relocate more than 90 minutes are eligible for the Federal Government’s relocation program.
One labour-hire provider on the apple isle said that any labour incentive the Tasmanian Government was considering providing was covered off by the Federal Government’s Take Up a Job program.
The Tasmanian Government has spent $1.9 million trying to mobilise a domestic workforce through an advertising campaign, investment in skills and training, regional transport and investment in Safe Farming Tasmania.
The Victorian Government is providing financial support to businesses to offset the costs of worker accommodation (up to $200 per day for 90 days), travel to work costs (up to $50 per day for 90 days) and relocation costs (up to $500 per employee).
As part of the Agriculture Workforce Plan, seasonal agriculture workforce coordinators have been employed to support the agriculture sector navigate the complexities of harvest.
Businesses are invited to register for seasonal workforce support through Agriculture Victoria’s website.
Eligible workers who move to specific regions will be able to claim up to $40 a night in accommodation rebates for up to 12 weeks – up to a maximum total rebate of $3360.
Workers will also be able to claim $150 for travel to the Peel, South-West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Mid-West or Goldfields-Esperance regions, $350 for travel to the Gascoyne or Pilbara, and $500 for travel to the Kimberley for agricultural work.
The Western Australian Government has also invested significant money into the Work Out Yonder and Wander campaign, aimed at attracting young Australians to agricultural work.
New South Wales
NSW Department of Primary Industries will soon be announcing a campaign aiming to fill roles with young people.
The ‘Regional NSW Gap Year’, will target young Australians, with the goal of providing jobs across agriculture, as well as a number of other sectors, in rural areas.
The campaign has not been announced yet. Those eligible are able to apply for the Federal Government’s Take Up a Job program.
There are currently no state-specific labour incentives available for workers in South Australia, however those who relocate more than 90 minutes are eligible for the Federal Government’s relocation program.
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