The NFU has said it is seeking legal advice over the Agricultural Wages Board’s decision to ratify a pay deal which includes voluntary overtime in the calculation of workers’ holiday pay.

Bob Fiddaman, the leader of the employers’ side on the AWB, strongly condemned Friday’s (8 Sept) decision as both irrational and unreasonable.

“It will make it very difficult for employers to calculate what each of their workers is entitled to in holiday pay, it will discriminate between workers on the same farm and it will add significantly to wages’ costs overall,” he said.

“Such a significant and controversial proposal should have been dealt with during the substantive negotiations, not slipped in at the last moment.”

What the board has imposed is a change in the calculation of holiday pay, so that it will be based on gross average pay over the 12 weeks running up to the holiday, including voluntary overtime. 

The previous calculation, which applies in virtually every other industry, includes compulsory overtime, but not voluntary, given that the latter will vary from worker to worker and from day to day