What is the Workplace Action Plan?
The Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan is an industry action plan developed by DairyNZ and Federated Farmers to assist dairy farming businesses to adopt good workplace management practices.
The plan describes what a quality work environment in the dairy industry might look like and sets out the coordinated actions and commitments of the industry. It also provides practical advice and support to employers and employees.
Why do we need a Workplace Action Plan?
The benefits of a quality workplace are considerable. Good work environments will help attract and keep the motivated and talented people we need in our industry. Good work environments are productive, rewarding, safe and enjoyable for all people on farm – employers and employees. Good work environments mean you can reap the rewards in the good times and help each other during the tough ones.
DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are clear that it is people who will drive our dairy business success – economic, environmental and social.
The five pillars of good people management
The Workplace Action Plan is built on five pillars of good people management. Farms first need to create workplaces with firm foundations by complying with the law. However, if you want people to stay, grow and contribute then you need quality work environments which motivate and reward people fairly. You need to do more than the basics. Developing a plan to improve your farms performance in the five pillars of good people management is a great start.
1. Balanced and productive work time
Dairying has strong variations in seasonal work demands, which sometimes calls for long hours and extra effort. However, exceptional circumstances should not be embedded as the norm.
Balanced and productive work time requires:
- Enough people with the right skills to ensure workloads are achievable, and animal welfare, food safety, and good environmental and employment practices are not compromised
- A variety of tasks offering both physical and mental challenges
- Motivating and enjoyable work that avoids constant fatigue
- Enough flexibility to support an overall work/life balance
- Technology, systems and processes that improve the quality of the workplace
Positive working conditions mean that:
- No employee is expected to work more than 48 hours per week
- An employee may agree with their employer to work additional overtime hours, up to 12 hours per week
- The agreed hourly rate for any additional overtime hours should be equivalent or greater to the employee’s nominal hourly rate
- The agreed work roster incorporates regular days off, with employers allowing employees at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every seven-day period
- Work breaks should be provided after every 4 hours of working
2. Competitive remuneration
Competitive wage and salary rates are based not only on meeting the legally required minimum standards.
To attract, retain and reward talented people:
- All employees on farm should receive salary or wages that are competitive for the skills and experience they offer
- Dairy assistants with two years’ experience should receive at least the living wage per hour worked
Employers ensure that:
- Written employment agreements are in place for all employees
- Written records are kept of all employee hours worked, and wages paid
- Employee’s holidays and leave are recorded
- Remuneration packages consist mainly of a salary. Any accommodation is paid for through rent, not as an accommodation allowance
- Tenancy agreements are in place
3. Health, safety and wellbeing
Wellness and wellbeing are the foundations of healthy, safe and productive work, and require proactive attention:
- Persons in charge of a business or undertaking (PCBUs) weigh up all relevant matters and circumstances and take reasonably practicable actions to manage any risks to people.
- The workplace is physically safe, free from bullying or harassment, and work-related stress is managed.
- Employers provide hygienic facilities and work-related health is managed.
- The nutritional, physical, emotional and social needs of vulnerable employees (e.g. young employees and new migrants) are considered and appropriate support is put in place to protect those needs
- Appropriate training, and personal protective equipment is provided and used to ensure the safety of all people on farm. Training records are kept and maintained
- Employees are involved in setting and operating the farm health and safety plan
- No-one is permitted to work under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol or use medication that would compromise safe work practices
- Accommodation is in good condition and complies with all legal requirements
- Employees are provided with the ability and necessary information for obtaining and accessing independent advice and representation where appropriate
- Employers need to be aware of the health and safety impacts of fatigue on employees and how to best manage these issues in their business operations
4. Effective team culture
Employees are valued as integral to a business that is sustainable, profitable and enjoyable:
- Mutual respect and care is extended to all team members
- Diversity is understood and respected (including cultural, gender and religious differences) and no one shall be subject to any discrimination or harassment in employment based on gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, political opinion, social group or ethnic origin
- The specific requirements of migrants (e.g. with settlement and with English language) are addressed
- Employees are encouraged to provide feedback to aid continuous workplace improvement
- Employees are supported to be self-managing and responsible
- Farm teams are provided with:
- clear direction about their work
- open and honest communication
- regular constructive feedback
- The business has the right mix of skills to perform its tasks competently, which may include contractors, rural professionals and financial advisors
5. Rewarding careers
Retention of people in the dairy industry is highly valued:
- All people on farm have opportunities for personal growth and career development
- Employees have a clear understanding of career paths, and are supported and valued in their career choices
- Continuous improvement through on-going skills development is supported
- Fit for purpose learning is encouraged for all people on farm, usually this will be a combination of formal and informal training
The Workplace Action Plan is intended as an aspirational guide only and should not be regarded or relied on as legal or professional advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Workplace Action Plan help farmers?
The primary aim of the Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan is to provide support to dairy farm businesses, and give them options to improve their ability to attract, motivate, develop and retain skilled employees.
Who else supports this plan besides Federated Farmers and DairyNZ?
A range of organisations have signed up as supporting partners of the plan including Massey and Lincoln Universities, Young Farmers and the Dairy Women’s Network.
Does this involve new regulations to which farmers must comply?
No. The Workplace Action Plan has been developed by DairyNZ and the dairy section of Federated Farmers to help farmers and employees. It does not create and apply any new regulations. The plan offers employers and employees voluntary activities they can undertake to support their businesses. It also clearly sets out legal requirements.
What about that 50 hours recommendation, what does that mean?
The plan says that staff who are working on a well-designed roster normally are not likely to work more than 50 hours a week; have regular days off (at least two consecutive days) and are not likely to work more than 10 hours a day. It also recognises that dairying has strong variations in seasonal work demands which sometimes call for long hours and exceptional effort. However, exceptional circumstances should not be embedded as the norm. It is a legal requirement that minimum wages or above have to be paid for all hours worked.
Does that mean there are no standards that farmers have to comply with?
No, there are already legal standards that farmers have to meet – these are clearly set out in the plan to make it easier for farmers to understand what those set regulations and legal standards are for employment and health and safety – and how to ensure their businesses comply and avoid any time-consuming problems.
The Workplace Action Plan considers these legal standards are the foundations for good employment relationships.
So why would a farmer go the extra steps of the Workplace Action Plan – from good to great?
Sticking just to the legal standards is unlikely to create satisfying and productive work relationships and help farmers attract and retain skilled staff. It’s a competitive marketplace for good staff – and the options are global and growing for young people.
What does the Workplace Action Plan expect the farmer to do?
A recommended first step for farmers is to check the guidance captured in the five pillars of good employment practice, and evaluate whether they have gaps that they want to address. There are tools to help farmers do this – and our aim is to make it easy for them to take action if they want to and set out a road map for them to boost the performance of their businesses.
Will this cost farmers’ money?
Only some of the actions recommended have a cost associated with them, such as conducting the Good Practice HR Assessment Survey for farm personnel ($200 plus GST). Other follow-up actions such as involving a rural professional may also require investment.
However, these investments and their timing are stepped and voluntary. There is also considerable room for adaptations and actions that have little or no cost.
Behind all of the actions recommended is the proven return to businesses of good people management.
Workplace Action Plan: Employer
Having a quality workplace will allow you and your team to focus on delivering great results for the farm and everybody in the team has a part to play.
Workplace Action Plan: Employee
Dairying offers many rewarding career options, the key to this is the work environment and dairy farms need to be enjoyable, safe, productive and rewarding places to work.