The government has announced that Seasonal Agricultural Workers will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement for people entering the UK.
The announcement comes as part of new measures to prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections as more people start travelling to the UK.
Government advice for seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to work on farms, and their employers
Gov.uk has published guidance on coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms. From 8 June 2020 there will be new arrangements in place at UK borders under which incoming travellers will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days on entry to the country.
The importance of food production has however been recognised in the form of alternative arrangements that have been put in place for seasonal agricultural workers in edible horticulture. Click here for detailed government guidance on these alternative arrangements. In addition to this, more general guidance has also been published by the Home Office on what is required at the border, and by DHSC on self-isolation.
The NFU is of course aware and has raised with Defra that there are seasonal needs outside of edible horticulture and that not all edible horticultural seasonal workers are accommodated on site. Nonetheless, the alternative arrangements for at least some of the required seasonal workforce is welcome. Going forward, the regulations and exemptions will be reviewed every 21 days to ensure that they remain proportionate and are still justified by the best scientific evidence.
You must make sure that workers have documentary evidence to confirm that they are travelling to your farm to carry out seasonal agricultural work. Workers must have these documents before they travel. See above for a template letter you can use.
Within two hours of workers arriving at the farm, you should give them:
- Clear instructions about their working and living arrangements
- Industry guidance on social distancing
Ask workers to give written confirmation that they have received and understood this information.
For the first 14 days, you should put workers into groups and strictly limit contact with others outside of those groups. The group should be made up of workers arriving on the farm within 24 hours of each other.
When working, ensure that your operations follow:
If anyone in the group develops coronavirus symptoms, follow guidance on what to do if an individual gets coronavirus symptoms.
In response, NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “We are pleased to see the government recognise the importance of our seasonal workforce and the enormous value returnee workers provide in helping get iconic British produce from field to plate.
"This exemption is a practical solution that allows workers to undertake key roles on farms while ensuring they don’t present risks to other farm workers or rural communities.
“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, farmers and growers have prioritised complying with government regulations and good practice, and the safety of their staff is their top concern.
“We have been working closely with the government to ensure a solution is in place this summer that encourages our domestic workforce to consider working on farm to bring in this year’s harvest and the response so far has been fantastic.
“I would encourage anyone who is interested in helping pick for Britain this summer to visit the site and see what jobs are out there. I would reiterate that the quarantine procedures in place on farm will minimise the risk to all employees.
“As we begin to reach the peak of the picking season, thousands of vacancies will continue to open up on farms across the country and while it is positive that seasonal workers will be able to begin work without delay after arriving in the UK, the need for workers to pick, pack and grade fruit and veg remains.”
The Home Office has said that Seasonal Agricultural Workers will self-isolate on the property where they are working. The NFU is asking the government for more detail on this.