Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Queensland's agricultural workforce
Coronavirus (COVID-19) may impact your ability to source harvesting and production workers. Significant disruption to seasonal worker numbers could occur in various regions.
Anticipate and plan for significant reductions across all levels of your workforce.
Worker availability issues may arise in:
- working holidaymakers (i.e. backpackers)
- overseas student workers
- seasonal worker programme
- pacific labour mobility scheme
- local seasonal workers
- core permanent ongoing staff
- other business along the supply chain.
Sourcing workers when normal channels don't work
Many businesses have relied on a regular pattern of seasonal workers and a stable, permanent workforce for many seasons. You may not have considered or be aware of alternative ways of recruiting.
Current options for recruiting workers include:
- using the free Harvest Trail online facility
- lodging vacancies directly onto jobsearch.gov.au or registering your business on the jobactive website to post your positions for free
- contacting your local jobactive providers
- advertising on social media, like Facebook and Twitter, and/or traditional, local methods like newspapers, community bulletin boards or roadside signs
- contacting a licensed Labour Hire service provider
- encouraging your industry representative body/organisation to promote the need for workers (e.g. 'Pick Local' campaign)
- considering the Seasonal Worker Programme (subject to the lifting of current travel restrictions)
- considering the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme (subject to the lifting of current travel restrictions).
Guaranteeing available workers are suitable for my business
To enable available workers to be suitable for your business, ensure induction processes, role descriptions and work procedures are in place and current (including procedures to mitigate spreading of coronavirus (COVID-19)).
Ensure suppliers of labour (e.g. Labour Hire, jobactive) understand your requirements and are selective in who they send to you (e.g. do you need heavy lifting capacity or intermittent work hours?).
Government and industry working together
Government and industry are working together and meeting regularly to identify current and emerging issues resulting from actions to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the community and developing strategies aimed at addressing these.
The Queensland Government already has several agriculture workforce officers in place across Queensland called the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network. These officers can provide free advice on workforce services and initiatives to all Queensland agribusinesses, regardless of commodity or organisation membership.
If you are an employer in agriculture in Queensland and need additional advice on these services, you can contact your local agriculture workforce officer.
Knowledge is key
We will be working closely with other government agencies to ensure you have access to relevant and accurate information.
- Information about coronavirus (COVID-19) is best obtained from the Australian Government Department of Health, Queensland Government or Queensland Department of Health.
- Resources from the Queensland Government and Australian Government are available for use in your business and with your customers.
- Business Queensland provides essential information, including business support and advice, industry support, financial assistance, managing staff and health advice.
- The Fair Work Ombudsman has advice to assist you to understand your fair work obligations.
- Be aware of health and safety procedures by reviewing Workplace Health and Safety and WorkCover Queensland information, including:
- Read the COVID-19 impact on Queensland agriculture workforce fact sheet.
- Find out about employing seasonal workers during COVID-19.
- Last reviewed: 30 Mar 2020
- Last updated: 11 May 2020