Scottish Agricultural Wages Board to be retained

24 December 2015

The decision follows a review and public consultation on the future of the body, which has the power to set minimum pay rates, holiday entitlement and certain other conditions of service for agricultural workers in Scotland. Orders made by the Board have the force of law.

New Scottish Government analysis found evidence that scrapping the Board would reduce wages, particularly for young apprentices and migrant workers. No evidence was found to demonstrate that abolishing the board would help create more jobs in farming. On the contrary, agricultural job growth in Scotland would appear to have outpaced that of England, where the wages board was abolished in 2013.

The Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead said:

“Workers must be paid a fair wage for the job that they do. As well as being the right thing to do it is important in attracting people into the industry – which is vital for the future of Scottish agriculture.

“I have considered carefully the results of this review and responses to our consultation, in which a variety of views were expressed.

“The evidence in favour of retaining the Scottish Agriculture Wages Board is compelling. It continues to perform an important role in protecting the rights of farm workers - many of whom are paid low wages – which in turn underpins the rural economy.

“That is why I have decided to retain the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board.”

The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) established under the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Act 1949. Similar arrangements for determining minimum rates of pay and other conditions for agricultural workers exist in Northern Ireland and in Wales under different legislation.

The legislation governing the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board specifies that its function must be reviewed periodically in order to ensure that it is delivering appropriate minimum rates of pay and other conditions of service for agricultural workers in Scotland. The Scottish Government consulted on the future of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board in 2015, the next review is due to take place in five years’ time.