The UK Home Government announced earlier this month that it will launch a two-year seasonal worker pilot scheme.
According to Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants, the scheme aims to bring 2,500 seasonal workers to farms in the UK.
The UK Visa pilot scheme will allow workers from outside the EU to do seasonal farm work in the UK for up to six months. There will be a cap of 2,500 workers per year.
“The UK government hope that the pilot scheme will help alleviate farm labour shortages during the peak production periods in the UK. They also said that an automated harvesting solutions are not universally available, and hope that this pilot scheme will support farmers during peak production times,” Breytenbachs explained.
“The results of the UK visa pilot scheme will be reviewed, and the UK Government will then determine how to support the long-term needs of the farming industry in the UK.”
It added that farmer unions in the UK reportedly welcomed the new visa pilot scheme but warned that it was not ambitious enough, as more workers are needed on UK farms.
According to Breytenbachs, to qualify under the Seasonal Worker Pilot the worker will have to be at least 18 years of age on the date of application. In addition, the scheme will only be open to workers from outside the European Union.
The UK Home Office said that the scheme will start in the spring of 2019, and will run until December 2020 – with more details expected to be announced closer to the launch date.
According to jobs website Indeed, farm labourers earn an average of £7.98 (R155) an hour across the UK right now.
The data shows a minimum salary of £6.65 (R130) an hour – rising to £12.05 (R233) for top earners.
However, the UK programme will likely be similar to other seasonal programmes (such as those in New Zealand and the US), where labourers are paid slightly more due to it being peak season, and may also be provided with accommodation.
It should also be noted that these salaries only apply to very basic labour positions, and more advanced/technical work may pay substantially more.