Onboarding employees for the new dairy farm season

31 May 2022
3 min read

31 May 2022

The new dairy farm season is upon us so whether you are saying goodbye or hiring new employees, it’s the perfect time to make sure you have a good understanding of your obligations as an employer.

With many businesses struggling to obtain and retain workers, having a clear and comprehensive onboarding process significantly contributes to a solid first impression and your reputation as a great place to work.  

Employment agreements

As a dairy farmer, it is important to ensure all current and new employees have a robust employment agreement in place. We recently wrote about what needs to be included in an employment agreement but here are a few industry specific considerations to consider:

  • Ensure the newly risen minimum wage has been factored into your salary or wage calculations. Minimum wage is now $21.20, which equates to a salary of $44,096 (based on a 40-hour week). We are still seeing jobs advertised on Seek and Trademe with the advertised rate of $20 per hour.  

  • In an industry where long hours are common, ensure that hours of work are clearly defined and agreed upon in employment agreements. If there is a requirement to be available in busy periods, such as calving, this needs to be documented along with adequate compensation for the employee.

  • With many farmers taking on new employees at this time, if employers do not have these employment agreements signed prior to the first day of work, the 90-day trial period is not valid. This trial period can only be used for new employees.


If you don’t have timesheet recording sorted yet, now is the time to do that.

Given the nature and variability of hours involved in farming, we strongly recommend you have employees complete timesheets daily to help meet your legal obligations to record hours worked. Timesheets should record start and finish times as well as breaks.  

Health and safety induction

A health and safety induction should form part of any onboarding programme.

An induction should include:

  • Familiarising new workers with the property and its risks.

  • How to report health and safety risks, incidents, accidents, workplace illness or discomfort.

  • Emergency procedures (including task specific procedures such as tractor rollover, hydraulic fluid injections).

  • Training and competency assessments to ensure workers can competently complete tasks. 

For further information or assistance with your farm’s HR and Health and Safety needs, get in touch with our HR and H&S consultants.