The post-Brexit seasonal
workers pilot has opened
March 7, 2019
First announced in September last year, the seasonal workers pilot has now started.
The trial is for fruit and vegetable farmers who want to employ up to 2,500 non-EU migrant workers for up to six months.
It is seen as a test of the effectiveness of the government’s immigration system after the end of Free Movement. It is hoped to alleviate seasonal labour shortages during peak production periods without having a negative effect on local communities and public services.
David Rutley, Food Minister at Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs said:
‘Our farmers and growers have been absolutely clear about the need for additional sources of labour to work on farms during the busy harvest months.
‘We have heard these concerns, which is why today we are opening this pilot to boost the workforce on farms this spring and summer and help farmers with their harvests.
The scheme is being operated by two companies who have been licenced to manage the pilot. They will be responsible for identifying the workers, matching them to UK farmers and ensuring their welfare while they are in the UK.
One of the operators, Concordia, has agents in Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. They said:
‘We have committed to the government that non-EU workers will go to areas of greatest needs in terms of geography and crop.
‘We will discuss these requirements with the National Farmers Union, as well as utilise our own labour data in order to provide an appropriate balance across sectors and regions.
‘Ideally they will go to farms who can take a large group, so that workers of a certain nationality do not feel isolated.’
Successful applicants with the appropriate visas will be expected to arrive later this year.
The test run ends in December 2020, when the scheme will be reviewed.