Here is what you need to know about completing your 88 days
There are many questions that backpackers face when looking to complete their 88 days regional farm work. We hope to answer them all right here!
Why is it 88 days?
88 days is based on the 3 shortest Months of a calendar year (e.g. Feb, April, June).
What work can be completed to get your 88 days signed off?
The work needed to be completed to get your second-year extension must be one of the following in the list below. Please note that when looking for work, employers will state whether it offers the visa sign off.
- plant and animal cultivation: –
- the harvesting and/or packing of fruit and vegetable crops;
- pruning and trimming vines and trees; Note: This must be the primary employment task and directly associated with the cultivation and commercial sale of plant produce, such as fruit and nut crops (commercial horticultural activity). General garden maintenance is not eligible. – general maintenance crop work;
- cultivating or propagating plants, fungi or their products or parts;
- immediate processing of plant products;
- maintaining animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce, including natural increase; Note: Maintaining animals for tourism or recreational purposes is not eligible.
- immediate processing of animal products including shearing, butchery in an abattoir, packing and tanning; Note: Secondary processing of animal products, such as smallgoods processing and retail butchery is not eligible. – manufacturing dairy produce from raw material.
- fishing and pearling:
- conducting operations relating directly to taking or catching fish and other aquatic species;
- conducting operations relating directly to taking or culturing pearls or pearl shell.
- tree farming and felling:
- planting or tending trees in a plantation or forest that are intended to be felled;
- felling trees in a plantation or forest;
- transporting trees or parts of trees that were felled in a plantation or forest to the place where they are first to be milled or processed or from which they are to be transported to the place where they are to be milled or processed.
- coal mining;
- oil and gas extraction;
- metal ore mining;
- construction material mining;
- non-metallic mineral mining and quarrying;
- mining support services.
- residential building construction;
- non-residential building construction;
- heavy and civil engineering construction;
- land development and site preparation services;
- building structure services;
- building installation services;
- building completion services;
Where to find work?
There are a few websites which can help you find work which can be found using Google. Alternatively, Facebook pages/groups are very helpful. Some hostels will promote the ‘whole package’ which means accommodation and work. The hostels tend to work with the farms in the area. Make sure to research the hostels as it is common to see a few ‘too good to be true opportunities’ which usually is the case.
Over the coming months, The Real Backpacker will be posting jobs available all over Australia for regional work! Make sure you keep up to date by registering to our backpacker community! Most backpackers choose farm work to get their days due to the high demand for it all over the country. Farm work can vary to all types of roles and is paid either on a hourly basis or piece rate.
The ins and outs of hourly and piece rate?
When looking for work, it is very easy to find piece rate work compared to hourly. Both have pro’s and cons.
|Hourly vs Piece Rate|
|Guaranteed money for work||Not guaranteed days||Less pressure from management||Inconsistancy on wages|
|Rota is usually set||Can be closely supervised||Flexible hours||Earn less compared to full time hourly|
|Can earn a lot more than piece rate||Work can be difficult to find||More opportunities to find work||Higher chance of being exploited|
|Higher job security||More pressure to deliver numbers||Usually always overtime available||Work longer hours for less money|
The national minimum wage is currently $17.70 per hour or $672.70 per 38 hour week (before tax).
Piece rate will vary on the what you are picking. Rates do vary between farms. An example of piece rate would be picking apples and being paid per bin. A bin can vary between sizes but preferably 350-400kg. For each bin, you would receive an amount. Typical amount is $35-$50 dollars.
Different fruit have different methods of picking. For apples, it is common to pick in pairs but the employer will explain it either in the job description or in the interview.
How much can you earn from picking on piece rate?
When starting out with no experience, you can realistically pick up $80 – $140 a day. Not worth it, is it? It can seem that way to begin with, however over time (2-4 weeks) using the correct techniques given you can build it up to $160 – $200 a day ($200 – $300 on good days). Sounds a bit better! It is very important to have a good understanding of what you expect to earn rather than coming into regional work with high targets. The main reason people save during their regional work time is due to not spending any money.
Real Backpacker Tip; Give it at least 2-4 weeks before deciding whether you want to stay or leave. Regional work can be tough and the money is not great but changing farms can cost more money and add further time to your day count.
How long does it really take to get your days completed?
If you are planning to complete farm work. It is important that you do not put a time limit on this as there are many factors which can affect how long you spend doing regional work. Under the most excellent conditions you will complete it within 3 months (88 days). However, the reality of it is most backpackers spend 4-5 months due to moving jobs, weather conditions and other factors.
The most common jobs which are taken on is in the plant and animal cultivation industry. With no experience, you can easily walk into a job such as fruit/vegetable picking or packing.
If you are lucky enough to be working full-time where you are paid hourly, a working week is classed as 7 days (which goes towards your 88). Even if you only work 5 days a week, the days off still count.
Working an hourly paid job may sound great but you will need to be mindful that it does not guarantee you work every day. Unfortunately, backpackers in the past have only received 3 days’ work each week which doesn’t qualify as full time work. Limited hours can be due to this weather and the how far the fruit/vegetables are into the season.
Under piece rate, you usually full under as a ‘casual’ employee’. This means that you only get a day signed off if you work it.
This is a very grey and questionable area in the visa system as many casual workers will work 10+ hours a day 6 days a week on a casual contract which is equivalent to full time hours. However, using a pay per piece system, hours are never really recorded and it is just based on the amount of money you make. The employer legally must sign off your paperwork for each day work.
You may also need to include rain days or extreme heat depending on the season. Most fruit can’t be picked if there is heavy rain which does occur in the southern part of Australia March – September. This is the same case for extreme heat in the summer months. This means the day does not count towards your days.
Real Backpacker Tip; Speak to the Employer beforehand to get a full understanding of the terms of employment. Also keep a count for yourselves writing the amount you earn daily.
Do you need a vehicle for work?
It is highly recommended that you have a vehicle, however not a necessity. Employers who post jobs will usually state whether a vehicle is needed.
The main issues you might run into without a car is more than likely your regional work will be out of the way from any shop which can cause problems food shopping.
Looking at buying/selling a car? Check out our new feature which allows you to buy/sell items on The Real Backpacker.
Real Backpacker Tip; Before applying for a job, look at the location and check surroundings area to get a better understanding of places nearby.
Accommodation: Where to live?
Living in a Working Hostel, you will be expected to pay between $150 – $250 a week. Depending on the hostel it could mean you would be sharing in a dorm or have a private room.
Some employers do offer living accommodation while you work there and charge roughly the same price.
What to do once you have completed your 88 days?
So, you have completed your days, hooray! There is form you must hand to your employer. The form can be found here. Once the form is filled in, make sure you have copies of all your payslips.
Some employers will request a buffer time to get it filled out (5-7 days) so be sure to plan this into your travel plans.
Once you have the form filled in, keep it safe as it may be requested when applying for your second year.
Real Backpacker Tip; Make a digital copy of the form so it is easy to access.
So there you have it! If you have any more questions about completing your 88 days, visit our The Real Backpacker community!
Enjoy your travels!