Seasonal Worker Permit to be Piloted in 2019

November 2, 2018

The UK Government plans to introduce a Seasonal Worker Permit in 2019 for a trial period running until December 2020. The pilot scheme addresses concerns raised over the past months by UK farmers regarding low skilled labour shortages during peek seasonal periods. The agri-food sector in Northern Ireland is heavily reliant on labour sourced from outside the UK.

Around 48% of workers employed in the sector are non-UK EEA nationals. The British Growers Association estimated that in 2016 there were 75,000 foreign seasonal agricultural workers in the UK. It is anticipated the Seasonal Worker Permit scheme will function in the following way:

• The permit will be available to seasonal agricultural workers over the age of 18 from outside the European Union
• Up to 2,500 permits will be issued under the pilot scheme
• Eligible foreign workers can apply to two authorised UK agencies to be recruited for the pilot
• If the worker is selected and the permit is approved this will be issued for a period of up to six months permitting for work on UK fruit and vegetable farms
• There are currently no permit options available for non-EU seasonal agricultural workers

There are no plans at this stage for a permit to be devised for permanent low skilled workers who are required all year round.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Immigration is a complex area of law for both corporates and individuals. Please contact our Immigration Law / Employment Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

Conor McCrory, Associate, Immigration Law Team, Cleaver Fulton Rankin, Solicitors.