Yes, you would usually need to be at least 18 years old to work on our farms, but there may be roles for 16 to 18-year-olds depending on the farm.
Picking – working outside in the fields, in polytunnels or in glasshouses, picking fruit and veg such as strawberries, apples, peppers, asparagus, spring onions.
Packing – working in a packhouse to sort fruit or veg and pack into units, ready for distribution. A certain level of manual handling will be required, but training will be given.
Plant husbandry – this is all about keeping plants and farms healthy, including planting, weeding, plant management and maintenance.
Forklift drivers, tractor drivers and van drivers – farms may also have vacancies for these types of workers.
For most roles, including picking, previous experience is not required, and training is given by the farms.
For roles where it is required, full training will be given.
It can be hard work and sometimes long hours, so a level of fitness is required.
Yes, the government has classified workers under ‘food and other necessary goods’ as key workers. This includes people involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of food. This means as a key worker you are able to travel to and from work, and your children may still be able to attend their local school.
Unfortunately not, but as farm workers are classed as key workers, children should be able to go to their school while you are working.
This will depend on your employer and the job you do. You may be paid a set hourly rate or a piece rate which varies depending upon how much you pick. However, you will always be paid the national minimum/living wage for the average of the hours that you work in a pay period.
The duration of each job depends on the role and the farm. Each farm will provide a timeframe for roles when you contact them.
Farms usually work from first thing in the morning until mid-late afternoon. Packing is often done in shifts and can carry on until later in the day. Farms will usually offer a full working week and often overtime as well if wanted. It’s important you discuss start/finish times and hours with the directly farm you apply to.
Ideally farms will be looking for people who can work a full working week but days and hours can vary by farm and according to the weather, so please check with the farm you are interested in working at.
You need to discuss this with the farm you’re applying to. Workers can live on the farm or travel in daily depending on your particular circumstances and the farm’s situation. The charge for the accommodation is set at a maximum £52.85 per week for 2020, making it good value compared to private sector.
Groups living in an on-farm caravan or cabin together can be treated as a household for social distancing purposes and can live and work together on a farm. If one member of the group becomes ill with COVID-19 then the others in the group will have to self-isolate as well, just as any other household would do.
Please check with individual farms as it will depend on the space and facilities they have available.
Furloughed workers can take on another job whilst they are retained on furlough and being paid by their employer, as long as their contract with their current employer allows it or their employer agrees it.
Please check with individual farms whether they offer volunteer positions.
For many years a migrant seasonal workforce has been an essential part of our supply chain for the harvesting of fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers throughout the year, with peak demand between early summer and late autumn. Many migrant workers return year after year to the same UK farms for the harvest season and are familiar with the work, having valued experience and skills they can pass on to others.
Given the current situation with Covid-19, we anticipate that fewer workers will travel to the UK this year, which means farmers and growers will need additional support from workers living in the UK. This is why we are working hard with industry to plan ahead for any potential labour shortfalls and help get workers onto farms.
In recent years the majority of seasonal workers have come from outside of the UK, often returning to work and live on the same farms year after year during the harvest season. There are a number of benefits to the sector from having an experienced returnee workforce:
- Already trained – returnees know the crops and processes and can operate at a high output very quickly.
- Can provide training- returnees can train new starters, support them to settle in and improve retention levels, they can act as mentors for new starters to show them the correct processes and provide appropriate advice and support. Having experienced staff to train others also leads to improved productivity. Returnee workers are well versed in the health and safety measures on farm, both for workers and for food safety.
- Engagement with business– returnees are already engaged with the grower’s business – businesses with high engagement scores are more productive
- Language skills- experienced returnee workers can provide a range of language skills to communicate more effectively with other workers who may not have English as a first language, they may be able to help translate training information into the different languages as needed.
There are already a number of industry recruitment initiatives under way and we hear from industry that there has been a good level of interest so far from UK-based workers.
We are working with industry to highlight available jobs as they become available and have launched the government-industry digital hub pickforbritain.org.uk to bring together seasonal work information and job opportunities in one place.
There is growing interest from UK-based workers in taking on seasonal work, particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic when many are looking for additional employment. The industry is actively seeking to employ a diverse workforce including both returnees and new starters who may live locally.
- Availability – Many UK workers are looking for work during the current pandemic and are keen to take on this work.
- Supporting the local economy – It is a way of supporting UK-based workers who are unemployed or furloughed to find paid work, helping to support local communities to the farm.
- Skills – Many workers have educational, language and other transferable skills that they are able to bring to roles – such as experience of manual work in other sectors.
All seasonal workers on farms will need to apply the government’s social distancing guidance while they are living and working here. All employers also have a responsibility to ensure these guidelines can be applied in the workplace to protect workers.
In addition to the government’s published ‘Working Safely’ guidance for employers
There is Best Practice Guidance for employers of seasonal agricultural workers to avoid the spread of coronavirus, which has been produced by a range of industry bodies with support from Defra and is endorsed by Public Health England (PHE). The guidance includes examples of managing on-site living arrangements and how to apply social distancing in the workplace where possible. This has been published on the AHDB website here: ahdb.org.uk/coronavirus/social-distancing-farm-businesses