Finding workers for agribusiness and commercial fisheries during COVID-19

The Queensland Government continues to help agriculture, commercial fishing and processing businesses to find workers and provide a safe work environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we can keep Queensland's food supplies secure while meeting COVID-19 public health directions.

Finding workers

Many businesses have relied on a regular pattern of seasonal workers and a stable, permanent workforce for many seasons. COVID-19 has impacted worker availability and supply chains and you should anticipate and plan for disruptions. We're assisting with relocation incentives to encourage Queenslanders to take up seasonal work opportunities, however, you may also need to consider alternative ways to recruit workers. You can:

You should also ensure:

  • your business provides new staff with information about Australian government assistance
  • induction processes, role descriptions and work procedures are in place and current (including procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19)
  • 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 are working together and meeting regularly to identify current and emerging issues resulting from actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community, and developing strategies to address these.

Read more about available financial and wellbeing support for agribusiness.

Recruiting agricultural workers using social media

Jobs boards on social media channels, including Facebook, Gumtree and commercial sites (such as Tree) can be an effective way of reaching prospective harvest workers.

Prospective workers may have limited or no experience in the agricultural sector, so it's important to provide basic information and links to online tools to help them make their decision to apply for work.

  • What does the work entail?
  • Is it indoor, outdoor or a mixture of both?
  • Can this job lead to year-round work?
  • Is there a pathway for development? For example, can it lead to a packing shed supervisor role?
  • Can they commute from the nearest town? Will there be transport or do they need to provide their own?
  • What is the pay rate and the hours available?
  • What are the accommodation options if they move?
  • Are there any cash bonuses available? (Answer: Yes there is. Up to $6,000 for the AgMove incentive).
  • If you are offering piece rates, how does this work? Consider linking to these videos explaining pay and piecework rates from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
  • Introduce yourself and your team. Include photos or a video of your team so they can see you. A friendly face, a bit about your enterprise and what you do can build their confidence to give it a go.
  • Identify the pages you want to post in (e.g. Cairns Jobs Board on Facebook) and ask to become a member.
  • Post from your business's Facebook page, rather than as an individual or your private Facebook page. Some pages don’t allow for this, so make sure your individual Facebook page also looks professional if you need to use this to post.
  • If you are using Facebook messenger for applicants, automate a reply to acknowledge you have received their application and give a realistic timeline that you will get back to them
  • Watch the comments, and reply with useful information or links (e.g. further questions around accommodation). However, don't reply to negative comments. If a thread gets off topic, you can take down the post and repost, or contact the site administrators for them to take action.
  • If you need to build your confidence or skills in recruiting agricultural workers using social media, contact your regional Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network officer.

Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN)

The Queensland Government's Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) has officers across the state providing free advice on workforce services and initiatives to all agribusinesses, regardless of commodity or organisation membership.

If you are a Queensland agriculture employer and require additional advice on these services, a local agriculture workforce officer can help.

Agriculture coordination officers

Queensland agriculture coordination officers are available to provide information and support to producers, the agriculture industry and local governments to manage coronavirus (COVID-19).

To contact an agriculture coordination officer, email info@daf.qld.gov.au or phone our customer service centre on 13 25 23.

Workers seeking new employment

Workers are encouraged not to visit farms to request work and should instead register their availability at Harvest Trail. They can also phone the National Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332.

Jobs boards on social media channels, including Facebook, Gumtree and commercial sites (such as Tree) can be an effective way of reaching prospective harvest workers.

Prospective workers may have limited or no experience in the agricultural sector, so it's important to provide basic information and links to online tools to help them make their decision to apply for work.

Also consider...

Contact

General enquiries 13 25 23