The minimum wage has increased, but employers who are paying salaries rather than hourly rates could be unknowingly offering less than the minimum wage.

“With the increase in minimum wage, farmers who are paying salaries and expecting people to work 50-60 hours a week are in serious danger of paying that person below the minimum wage,” explained Paul Harris, CEO at staff specialist, REAL Success.

And there could be serious fines if employers are found to be doing this. “For someone working a 55-hour week, which is common in the agricultural sector, the minimum wage for someone over 21 years old would be £32,718.40,” he added.

“But for someone working 37.5 hours a week, which is more of a standard week, the minimum wage would be £22,308.”

However, if accommodation is provided with the job, there could be an accommodation offset. “This is £69.93 a week, which can be added to the salary if the person is not contributing to the accommodation, and assuming the person lives in the accommodation full-time,” Paul explained.

“The issue is, the industry needs to face up to the fact that people cannot be working for 10 days on and two days off, with 10-hour days – people need to be working shorter weeks.”

It is a criminal offence for employers not to pay the minimum wage or national living wage. “Farmers need to check now if their staff are being paid the right amount of money.”