Apple Picker – What Are the Working Conditions?

With autumn comes apples! Each year, orchards are seeking arms to help them – a lot of them. Want to help out? Overview of apple picker employment conditions.

“Each orchard offers its own conditions, although there might be some trends,” says Annette Segura, recruitment technician at Agricarrières. “It all depends on producers’ needs.”

Profile sought
From August to October, orchard owners are seeking reliable, diligent and physically fit persons for picking. “It’s hard to find good candidates, because it’s a demanding assignment that only lasts a few weeks,” explains Claire Forget, co-owner of Ferme Ste-Catherine in Sherbrooke.

While some employers want to hire experienced pickers, others are turning to a workforce that they can train according to their requirements. “We have everything! Believe it or not, I often see academics or computer scientists who want to look up from their computers,” laughs Annette Segura. “Picking apples for a few weeks lets them have a change of air.”

Employment status
An apple picker can be a contract, seasonal or casual employee. “There are all kind of contracts. In addition, a detailed agreement should be determined before the work begins,” explains Annette Segura.

This can be a surprise for some people who knock on the door of Ferme Ste-Catherine, for example. “Many candidates approach us hoping to work under the table. We refuse it systematically. It’s important for us to respect the laws, both to protect the employee and ourselves,” indicates Claire Forget.

Apple pickers are generally paid by the hour or by performance, in other words by the kilogram or number of apples harvested. “Experienced employees often want to be paid by performance, because they are faster!,” says Annette Segura.

One way or another, the minimum wage of $12.50 per hour has to be respected, according to the recruitment technician. “If a person doesn’t reach this amount when they are paid by performance they will still be entitled to that base wage. It’s the producer’s responsibility to make sure of it.”

Points to check out
Part time or full time? How many hours a day? Transport provided by the producer? Accommodation provided when needed? All these questions are important to ask. “It’s case by case! I suggest candidates raise all these subjects with the producer before accepting a contract,” advises Annette Segura.

With this, happy picking!

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