Page 27 - Farm labour in the UK
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 This is relevant to the seasonal and permanent labour force and workers from the domestic and international labour markets, as employers will be competing with each other, other industries and other countries for workers.
Improve pay and conditions on farm
Interviewees recognised that in order for a job to be attractive to a potential worker, whether domestic or migrant, the conditions attached to the job itself require improvement. Pay levels need to be satisfactory, at the very least, but employers recognise that paying an extra 50 pence an hour is enough to attract workers from other farms. For permanent roles, pay must be competitive with other industries.
Accommodation was another area discussed frequently by all stakeholders. For seasonal workers, housing is usually provided by employers and can take the form of either purpose-built brick buildings with shared facilities (kitchen and bathroom) or caravans with shared facilities. One employer stated that caravans, although smaller, tend to be more popular due to the fact that workers share facilities with fewer people.
“If we can build really nice mobile homes then maybe we could actually provide the accommodation that these people are going to be able to afford to live in. There is nowhere to live in our village, absolutely nowhere” (Farmer 4)
Accommodation needs to not only be fit for purpose but also safe, comfortable and wherever possible, offer privacy and space. Current seasonal worker housing is unlikely to appeal to the larger proportion of the domestic workforce.
“If we are going to attract these people then the housing has got to be half decent” (Horticulture expert)
According to one individual working for a farming organisation, ‘there has been an increase in
investment into accommodation’, although there is still ‘room for improvement’. Housing also needs to be considered for permanent workers as many rural areas have priced local workers out of the market.
Due to the high labour and productivity requirements dictated by the supply chain, it is unlikely that picking jobs will be able to drop the hours needed per person, although one respondent expressed a desire to achieve such a scenario.
“I’d love to see four days on and four days off with no overtime and a full workforce seven days a week. It would be more efficient. I’d be utilising the machinery every day. I’d be equally efficient at 7 o’clock on a Sunday night as I would at 7 o’clock on Monday night at no more costs, but getting that, it’s just not as easy as it sounds” (Farmer 1)
More permanent roles are also associated with long and unsociable hours, related to looking after livestock, seasonal requirements or generally high levels of work to be carried out. However, even some dairy farms have created roles which offer two days off a week, a condition likely to be a prerequisite for many new entrants.
“You’re a livestock farmer, you need somebody 24/7 but do you need the same person? Or could you look at working it so that people can come in and come out and be more flexible” (Farming rep 4)
For seasonal workers, apart from the provision of satisfactory pay, workers need access to other benefits through the workplace. Basic provisions such as working WIFI are considered to be of vital importance in attracting workers, but cultural benefits are also cited as essential to enable workers to enjoy a life outside of work. This might take the form of assisting with learning English, providing a
Farm labour in the UK | Accessing the workforce the industry needs

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