Following the announcement on the end of free movement, the NFU challenges government to ensure farming can access vital overseas workers now and in the future.
Following media reports of the end of free movement of labor, the home office released information on what this meant for employers and workers. It said that arrangements for people coming to the UK for longer periods of time and for work and study ‘will change’ and that details of improvements to the previous government’s plans for a new immigration system are ‘being developed’.
The NFU and its members have expressed dismay at this development. With just two months until leaving the EU, there is now no policy in place that will enable farmers, growers and any other industry (hospitality, care etc.) to recruit from outside the UK.
The NFU immediately sent a letter to the Home Secretary expressing the need for urgent clarity about how EU workers can come to the UK post-Brexit and to reiterate the absolutely crucial role they play delivering safe, traceable and affordable food to the British public. The NFU has also raised it at a senior level within Defra, the Home Office, Cabinet, and called for support from key industry stakeholders and trade associations.
If no transition measure is forthcoming that provides the assurance the industry needs to continue to recruit EU workers post Brexit, then the NFU is calling for the urgent introduction of a new immigration policy that allows farm businesses to recruit the workers they need for both temporary and permanent positions. For horticulture, the NFU is also calling for the immediate expansion the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme to enable recruitment for the autumn/ Christmas period, and reach a full scheme for 70,000 at the start of 2020.
Members may also be able to mitigate some of their shortages for next year by supporting their workers to apply for the EU settlement scheme. While this scheme is designed to offer EU workers permanent residency in the UK, it can also be used to enable seasonal workers the right to come to the UK for up to 5 years.
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