Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)Find the answers to some common queries
Who can join the Fair Farms program?
Fair Farms is open to all horticulture businesses in Australia. This includes farming and packing enterprises, as well as other organisations in the supply chain, such as wholesalers, ripening houses and food brokers.
Is Fair Farms certification mandatory?
No. Becoming Fair Farms certified is merely one way/mechanism by which you can demonstrate that you employ people fairly and ethically and that you are compliant with Australia’s employment laws.
How do I benefit from being Fair Farm certified?
Your business will benefit from being Fair Farms certified in several ways including:
- You will set yourself apart as an ethical employer. This will make more farm workers want to come and work for you. Labour hire firms are likely to send more workers your way. Overall, a Fair Farms Certification will help you to improve your supply of consistent labour.
- Being Fair Farms certified will improve your ability to sell to the major Australian retailers. It is becoming apparent that the Fair Farms Certification (or a similar work-place compliance certificate) may well become a mandatory requirement for all farmers wanting to remain part of the big retailers’ supply chain.
- You will demonstrate to the regulator and any other interested parties that you are committed to complying with the Australian employment laws and ethical standards.
What is the Fair Farms Standard and what does it cover?
The Fair Farms Standard sits at the heart of the program. It is a comprehensive document setting out the various requirements any employer in horticulture should meet to be a fair and responsible employer. It is industry-specific, and we made a strong effort to write it in plain English.
The Fair Farms Standard covers labour standards, WHS standards, safe accommodation and general good business practice. It is benchmarked against Australian Fair Work, WHS laws and international labour standards. The Standard encompasses the ethical sourcing requirements of Australia’s larger retailers.
The Fair Farms Standard was developed over a period of 18 months by Growcom with Key inputs from industrial relations, workplace, certification and general industry experts. We’ve consulted with all segments of the supply chain (growers, wholesalers, retailers), industry peak bodies, a trade union and the Fair Work Ombudsman. FWO has given their in-principle endorsement of the Standard.
The Standard is a live-document and will be reviewed and improved over time .
How do I access training?
To ensure everyone can access high quality training at an accessible price, we have designed training to be accessed through online e-learning, phone consults and face-to-face training sessions.
Participants can choose what type of training meets their learning styles, needs and budget.
The number of available e-learning courses will grow over the coming months.
Does my customer/retailer accept Fair Farms?
All three major retailers in Australia – Coles, Aldi and Woolworths – allow their suppliers to choose Fair Farms as their preferred ethical employment program.
Please note, it is up to you to confirm with your customer if they accept Fair Farms.
Can I do Fair Farms if I’m already with SEDEX?
Yes. But you will need to join the Fair Farms program and go through your training and certification pathway.
Will Fair Farms accept a SEDEX SAQ or SMETA audit?
No. SEDEX does not provide training, nor is their self-assessment and audit benchmarked sufficiently against the subjects covered by the Fair Farms Standard.
What happens with the information I give to Fair Farms?
Upon registration, you can choose whether you would like to share certain information with selected customers (‘Registered Buyers’). If you choose this, your customers will be able to see your membership, training and audit status and have access to audit results.
We will not share the results of your self-assessment (OSA) with customers, as the OSA’s purpose is to identify your training needs.
There will be register of certified businesses made available to the public via the Fair Farms website.
Is the Fair Farms Program relevant to me if I use a Labour Hire Provider?
Yes. Even if all of your workers are supplied through labour hire, you still have significant obligations and responsibilities under the Fair Work Act, WHS laws and immigration laws. The Fair Farms Standard clearly spells out these responsibilities and your business would benefit from participation in the Fair Farms Program.
Can Fair Farms just be added into HARPS?
No. With its focus on workplace and employment practices and procedures, the Fair Farms program is distinct from HARPS and other food safety and quality systems. The Fair Farms program requires specialist auditors with specific training and qualifications in workplace relations, employment and social issues.
What does the Online Self-Assessment (OSA) involve?
The OSA is a simple online assessment that takes between 1-2 hours to complete. As both the audit and OSA are built upon the Fair Farms Standard, the OSA is a great business health check to prepare you for audit. The OSA is individualised, so if some sections don’t apply to your business, you do not have to complete them.
Throughout the OSA you will come across links to Fair Work resources and hints to questions that provide more information and examples.
I have a workplace Agreement, can I still do Fair Farms?
Yes. Unlike other international programs, Fair Farms understands the role of collective bargaining in the Australian horticulture industry. While completing the OSA, you can answer questions that reflect your Agreement, just make sure you have your Agreement handy.
How is Fair Farms funded?
Fair Farms is owned and implemented by Growcom, industry peak body for horticulture in Queensland. The establishment costs are borne by Growcom with seed funding support from the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Department of Agriculture and peak industry body AUSVEG. Over time, Fair Farms will become financially self-sustaining with its costs covered by generated revenue. All revenue generated by Fair Farms is reinvested into the program for the purpose of implementing an effective, independent and robust training and certification program.
What is Compulsory Professional Development (CPD) and why do I have to do it?
CPD is continued learning undertaken by participants every year as part of the Fair Farms Program.
In order to foster fair employment practices in the horticulture industry, Fair Farms is focussed on training and upskilling business owners and managers.
By undertaking CPD, participants have the opportunity to stay up to date with industry changes, formally recognise their learning and promote continued compliance with the Fair Farms Standard.
My business is based in Western Australia, can we take part in Fair Farms?
Employers in Western Australia either fall under the national Fair Work industrial relations system or the Western Australian State system.
As the Fair Farms Standard encompasses the core principles and laws under the Fair Work system, Fair Farms is currently only available to employers who operate under the federal system.
If you are unsure which system you fall under, you can contact Wageline on 1300 655 266.
We are currently consulting with WA growers and other suppliers to create a Fair Farms pathway that is relevant and effective for WA growers who operate under the State system, which will be available in 2020.