A new app has been launched to help support rural employers, promote workforce welfare and help to eradicate any potential instances of labour exploitation on British farms.
The Farm Work Welfare App has been developed by the Church of England’s modern slavery initiative The Clewer Initiative, alongside the NFU, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the National Crime Agency and others.
The app will provide guidance to farmers and growers on how to spot and prevent labour exploitation in their workforce, as well as practical information on licensed labour providers and document verification.
There will also be dedicated information on employment rights, available in eight languages, for the thousands of essential workers who come to the UK every year to help with the harvest of fruit and vegetables on UK farms.
Users can report concerns about their own situation or if they are concerned that a co-worker may be a victim of exploitation or modern slavery. All reports are submitted directly to the Modern Slavery Helpline.
NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “Farmers take their responsibilities in this area incredibly seriously and the welfare of their workers is always a priority for farm businesses.
“Labour use in agriculture is regulated by the GLAA through a licensing scheme and we’re pleased to work alongside them and other industry partners on this important project. The app will give farmers and growers an additional resource to help them spot and prevent any potential instances of labour exploitation within their workforce.”
Bishop Alastair Redfern, who chairs The Clewer Initiative, said: “Victims of modern slavery are often kept by highly-organised, ruthless criminal gangs in remote locations. These gangs pose as legitimate labour providers offering a ready supply of workers to farmers and growers who may not always spot the signs of exploitation.
“That is why we have developed the Farm Work Welfare App – we want to provide a resource for both farm businesses and workers to help them navigate the challenges of seasonal worker recruitment and thwart the criminal networks.
“The app is easy to use and will help farmers and growers avoid unwittingly using unlicensed and criminal labour providers. For pickers who may not be familiar with UK worker rights, it will provide vital information, in eight languages, on what they can expect.”
The app is now live on the Google Play Store here and it will soon be available on Apple devices.