Salaries in the Horse Racing Industry
Not everyone realises that salaries in the horse racing industry are different from those of any other equine sector. As of 10th December 2018, there are new Racing Industry Minimum Rates of Pay Structure and certain standard conditions of employment for Racing Staff employed by trainers in the racing industry, with amendments coming into force from 1st April each year to reflect changes to the National Minimum Wage. These Racing Industry Minimum Rates are agreed between the National Trainers Federation (Also known as the “NTF”) and the National Association of Racing Staff (Also known as “NARS”). These working standards are referred to as “the Memorandum of Agreement Between the National Trainers Federation and the National Association of Racing Staff”. In this article, we pull out key factors in the Memorandum of Agreement that set the horse racing industry apart from any other equestrian industry sector.
What’s the minimum hourly wage in the horse racing industry?
The horse racing industry categorises racing staff according to their experience level, from Scale 1: Trainee to Scale 6: Supervisory staff/senior management, so an employee is ensured a minimum wage commensurate with their ability, not their age.
To give you an example of the difference between working a 40 hour week in the horse racing industry and any other equine sector:
- by law, a 23 year old Head Groom or Manager of a yard can expect a minimum wage of £8.20 and hour, regardless of discipline/yard type. By comparison, a 23 year old Head Groom or Manager of a Racing Stables can expect a minimum wage of £9.38 an hour.
- by law, a trainee of any age is entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage for their age, regardless of discipline/yard type. By comparison, a trainee in the horse racing industry will receive just over the National Minimum Wage for their age.
The distribution of pool money is another factor that sets the horse racing industry apart. All racing yards must have clear rules in place for the fair distribution of prize money won by the yard. The prize money, or pool money, must be shared with all workers named on the Register of Stable Employee Names and in employment during the related time period.
What other factors influence a salary package in the horse racing industry?
Working Hours and Overtime
The normal full-time working week on the yard is 40 hours (excluding lunch break) and any hours worked over this is paid as overtime. Each hour of overtime is paid at “time and a half” – 50% extra on your standard hourly rate. If an employee has been off sick for part of the 40 hour week overtime must still be paid, regardless of the missed standard working hours.
The Memorandum tries to meet a middle ground between the needs of the horse racing industry and the needs of the employees with regards to a work-life balance. An example of this is:
- Working Time legislation is observed and factored into the Memorandum (hence the standard 40 hour week plus overtime detailed above).
- The pattern of working hours can be arranged to suit the needs of the individual yard but must take into consideration Working Time legislation. It’s considered standard practice for Racing employees to work 5 hours on a Saturday morning.
- Employees can expect to work full weekends as required, not as standard.
- A lot of racing takes place on a Sunday, and as racing staff are not expected to work every weekend as standard, having to work on a Sunday causes some disruption to work-life balance. Therefore, racing staff who go racing on a Sunday fixture in Great Britain will receive a Sunday Racing Payment of £30.00, and £16 of this allowance can be paid tax-free.
- There are various conditions that require an employee to be given a paid day off in lieu of time worked outside of their regular working hours, for example, Saturday evening and Sunday racing.
Employees working overnight receive a tax-free £19 allowance in addition to their pay.
Working away from the yard
If an employee is working away from the yard but it is an agreed part of their job role then the standard rate of pay applies for the standard working hours. All additional hours worked must be paid at £8.21, regardless of the employee’s age.
Travelling abroad through work
Some racing staff have to travel overseas as part of their job. While working abroad, employees can expect to receive their “working away from the yard” salary for hours worked in excess of their standard working hours. In addition, employees receive a £47.50 “Racing Abroad Payment”, £28.30 of which can be paid tax-free.
Clothes and Equipment
National Trainers Federation and the National Association of Racing Staff recommend that Trainers assist racing staff in purchasing work clothes, for example, jodhpurs and jodhpur boots if requested to do so and to arrange for employees to repay their employer in weekly instalments. Racing employees may be entitled to tax relief for work clothing and can claim via the HMRC website. Always remember to keep store/sale receipts somewhere safe!
Skull caps and safety vests should be provided free of charge by the employer, however, these items remain the property of the employer!
In the horse racing industry, the holiday year will be either 1st January to 31st December or 1st July to 30th June, and the trainer will determine which is appropriate for each yard. Holiday time cannot be carried over from one year to the next.
Holiday entitlement in the horse racing industry is different to that of the rest of the equine industry. Racing staff can expect the following holiday entitlement:
- Within the first year of employment: 30 days holiday per annum inclusive of 8 public holidays
- Racing staff working for the same employer for over 12 months and up to 5 years: 32 days holiday per annum inclusive of 8 public
- Once an employee has worked continuously for the same employer for 5 years, in the following years the holiday entitlement increases again: 34 days holiday per annum inclusive of 8 public holidays
Who are the National Association of Racing Staff?
The National Association of Racing Staff is the Trades Union of the horse racing industry. Originally founded in 1975, it’s previously been known as Stable Lads Association, and the National Association of Stable Staff, before becoming the National Association of Racing Staff (abbreviated to NARS) in 2017. NARS works to ensure fair working conditions for horse racing staff and offer support and confidential advice to workers.
Who are the National Trainers Federation?
The National Trainers Federation is an organisation for members being racehorse trainers holding current licenses issued by the British Horseracing Authority, and part of their role is to help employers in the horse racing industry. They say, “Our objective is to represent and protect trainers interests and to be a reliable and respected source of information, advice and support”. By working closely with each other, the National Association of Racing Staff and the National Trainers Federation can provide certain standard conditions of employment for Racing Staff employed by trainers in the horse racing industry.
Download the full Memorandum of Agreement for more information on pay and conditions in the horse racing industry.