Stratford upon Avon T: 01789 293259
Henley in Arden T: 01564 792261
Cheltenham T: 01242 228370
Birmingham T: 0121 200 0890

UK Seasonal Agricultural Workers Pilot Scheme extended to 30,000 workers

A recent announcement from Defra has seen the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Pilot Scheme extended to 30,000 EU workers, explains Lodders’ agricultural employment law specialist, Faye Reynolds.

On 22 December 2020, the Government’s Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that the Seasonal Workers Pilot, originally launched in 2019, has been extended and expanded for an additional year, with 30,000 visas available for EU workers wanting to work on UK farms for a period of up to six months in 2021.

Lodders’ agricultural employment expert, Faye Reynolds has been monitoring developments in the seasonal workers’ arena, as those involved in farming and horticulture try to plan for a future outside the European Union.

Further clarity for seasonal workers

Since our previous article on seasonal workers, some further clarity has been brought about the scheme which will be very welcome to those businesses reliant on this workforce. The extended pilot will continue to be managed by the Home Office under the T5 (Temporary Worker) Seasonal Worker immigration route. This continues to enable workers from outside of the EU to be hired for a period of up to six months to help out on UK farms during peak production periods.

Whilst this is a significant step forward, it is unlikely to meet the sector’s entire seasonal workforce need. However, it will offer support to growers across the UK who have not previously benefitted from the scheme.

Recruitment is at an advanced stage in Ukraine and Moldova and that recruitment is being established from Russia, Belarus, and Morocco.

Automation in the agriculture sector

At the same time, Defra will also lead a review into automation in horticulture, reporting on ways to increase automation in the sector and meet the Government’s aim of reducing the need for migrant seasonal labour.

Domestic seasonal workers

Defra has also announced that it will work with the farming industry to build on this years’ ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign to promote the recruitment and retention of domestic seasonal workers in 2021.

The campaign was launched during the initial coronavirus lockdown to encourage UK-based workers to take on seasonal jobs during the busy harvest months to help keep the nation fed, but was felt to have mixed success.

Hiring seasonal workers from outside the UK

Whilst this is at least a step in the right direction, from a legal perspective, it remains important to be aware that if you hire seasonal workers from outside of the UK, you need to ensure you do so in line with UK immigration rules and UK employment law rules, as getting the employment status of agricultural worker’s wrong can be costly for business owners.

More information

Faye is a senior solicitor in the Lodders Agricultural Sector team. If you need any advice on agricultural employment status or any other employment-related matter, please contact Faye Reynolds on 01242 229093, or via email for an initial chat.

Cameron Homes Lodders Life
Tara Group: There’s no place like home
Posted on 4th June 2021 in The Lodders Blog
Read full article
Watch on-demand: The Biodiversity jigsaw webinar
Posted on 3rd June 2021 in Events and webinars
Read full article
Double-whammy for the Residential Development Sector
Posted on 27th May 2021 in The Lodders Blog
Read full article

If you’re a journalist looking for more information about Lodders, or to discuss a press release, please contact:
Diane Wood, V Formation on 07887 794507 or by email

Get in touch...

If you need any advice on agricultural employment status or any other employment-related matter, please contact Faye Reynolds on 01242 229093, or via email for an initial chat.