NFU Scotland is warning the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board has “shut the door” on young people keen to get a job in the farming industry.

And it is calling on the SNP to review the role of the wages board as part of the party’s promise to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.

October increase

The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board confirmed this week that farm workers are to get a minimum 26p an hour increase in wage rates from October 1.

But the board again said it was standing by its controversial decision to scrap age-related pay bands for farm workers aged 18 and under.

Rates for all staff with less than 26 weeks employment will be £5.52 an hour, while those above that qualifying period will get at least £5.96.

Abolish age-related rates

Staff with additional appropriate qualifications can get a further 90p an hour, while the dog allowance rises to £4.52 each a week for up to four dogs.

The board was asked by the former rural affairs minister, Ross Finnie, to review its decision to abolish age-related pay rates.

Several representations were made to it on this issue, but all were rejected.

‘Shut the door’

NFU Scotland legal and technical committee chairman, Jamie Smart, warned that hundreds of farmers keen to employ a young person won’t be able to do so in the future.

“Young people, 16 and 17 year olds, enthusiastic about getting their first job in the industry, will now find that the Wages Board has effectively shut the door on them,” Mr Smart said.

“The SNP has been elected on the back of promises to address unnecessary bureaucracy.  The Wages Board must surely be in its sights. 

‘Short-sighted’

“Other legislation has made it redundant and this latest short-sighted move to scrap pay bands has damaged the job prospects for young people.  

“The Board must be able to justify its existence to the taxpayers who fund it – and we see no way it can now do that,” he added.