The Scottish Agricultural Wages Board has been ordered by Scotland’s rural affairs minister Ross Finnie, to reconsider its decision to scrap age-related pay bands.

The new rate, introduced on January 1, gives all farm staff in Scotland, including 16 and 17 year olds, a minimum wage of £5.35/hour and has been described as a “huge mistake” by NFU Scotland.

Ironically, the new rate was fixed by the board on the casting vote of the chairman, John Menzies, after taking legal advice from the Scottish Executive.

This is believed to be the first time a minister has intervened in a decision by the board.

“Given the widespread concern about the board’s decision, and the possible implications for the industry, I have asked Mr Menzies to reconvene his board within the near future and to seek further evidence,” Mr Finnie said in a letter to Banff and Buchan MSP, Stuart Stevenson.

“The board has the power to make a new wage order should it decide to do so.”

For more detail see Friday’s issue of Farmers Weekly out on 30 March.