Agricultural Wages Board plans to change the way workers’ holiday pay is calculated will add extra labour costs that many farm businesses can’t afford, says the NFU.

The AWB has proposed that holiday pay be based on total hours worked in the 12 weeks before an employee takes leave, as opposed to a flat rate based on basic hours and guaranteed overtime.

NFU employment spokesman Bob Fiddaman said the AWB’s proposals would put pressure on farmers’ cash flows and increase labour and administration costs.

“Agriculture and horticulture are seasonal industries, which have peaks and troughs in terms of activity, work and cash flow.

This proposal will make the payroll system over-complex.

We have asked the board to reconsider the formula for full-time workers’ holiday pay.”

Jack Clarke of the Transport and General Workers’ Union said alternative reference periods up to 52 weeks had been discussed.

“The issue is that overtime takes farm workers’ pay to a reasonable level.”