NFU Scotland | /seaonal-migrant-workers.aspx

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Seasonal migrant workers are a vital asset to soft fruit and vegetable production in Scotland. The information on this page is here to help keep farmers updated on some of the requirements of employing seasonal labour, as well as spotting the risks of labour exploitation.

RSABI migrant worker helpline: info poster available for download here

Accommodation requirements

Weather protective clothing requirements

Reducing the risk of employing illegal workers

Soft fruit growers working for good worker representation



RSABI migrant worker helpline: info poster available for download here


RSABI are pleased to announce that they are now providing a multi-lingual helpline to provide support to seasonal migrant farm workers in Scotland.

Seasonal migrant workers are a vital asset to the Scottish horticulture sector and are a critical part of its success. Covid restrictions and a new Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme made the 2020 season a difficult one for both farmers and their workers. This helpline will provide an additional service that seasonal workers can use to get practical, emotional and, in some cases, financial support from a friendly voice in their own language. Services that improve the mental wellbeing and morale of workers will have benefits for both the workers and for our members’ businesses.

Click to access, download, and print the information poster promoting the helpline here.

You can print off copies and make them visible to workers when they arrive onto farm and when they receive their induction. Information about the Seasonal Workers Helpline is also available in different languages on the RSABI website. If you would like hard copies of any of these then please get in touch with Norette Ferns at RSABI, Norette.Ferns@rsabi.org.uk.

RSABI offers practical, emotional and, in some cases, financial support, and callers can receive information and support on a range of issues. Managing seasonal workers is a hard enough task but adding the stresses of covid-19 on farmers and their teams makes things harder. RSABI support is available to anyone working in Scottish agriculture, not just seasonal workers. RSABI’s regular helpline is available every day of the year from 7am to 11pm on 0300 111 4166.

Accommodation requirements   


Migrant workers are a vital asset to Scotland’s horticulture sector and are a critical part of the sector’s success. It is vital for this success that Scotland is an attractive place to work. With a high amount of workers returning to work year after year, we know most farm businesses are attractive and rewarding places to work.

An important part of the migrant’s Scottish experience is their accommodation, which is usually a caravan. There are legal requirements for caravans, and Local Authorities must ensure these are being met. After a recent report on the risks of labour exploitation came out, the Scottish Government have pledged to “engage with Scottish local authorities on the scope for extending local authority inspection and enforcement capabilities under the Caravans and Control of Development Act 1960 to ensure compliance with minimum standards of accommodation”.

Almost all farmers in Scotland employing seasonal labour are regularly audited by the GLAA. This authority has a robust set of accommodation standards, and their audits provide an important check to avoid poor conditions. The GLAA’s audit can also take the pressure of already stretched local authorities.

The GLAA standards ensure that accommodation is safe for its occupants. Alongside specific standards about furniture, gas installations, and electrical equipment, there is a requirement that “any category 1 hazards as assessed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System must be properly resolved”. There are 29 of these hazards in total, in four different categories: physiological requirements (e.g. no damp or mould growth); psychological requirements (e.g. no entry by intruders); protection against infections (e.g. domestic hygiene, pests, and refuse); and protection against accidents (e.g. no electrical hazards).

Looking after workers by looking after their accommodation is important: for the wellbeing of the workers themselves; and the reputation of Scottish farming. Public perception is key to farming’s success: as the public buys our food and votes at the ballot box. Attracting, retaining, and returning the most skilled and productive workers is also vitally important for success in the changing and challenging environment for UK horticulture post-Brexit.


Weather protective clothing requirements  

Graham Bruce, Managing Director, Ringlink (Scotland) Ltd


As employers we are required to ensure the safety and welfare of our employees and those providing a service for us. We cannot expect anyone to perform a task without providing them with the appropriate equipment to complete the task both safely and effectively.

With this in mind it is worth highlighting the following legal requirement in relation to all agricultural workers including seasonal migrant workers: “a worker shall be provided, by their employer, with such of the following items of weather protective clothing as may be necessary for the proper performance of their duties”. This is a requirement of the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Order, which goes on to list items including wellington boots, as well as PVC coat, leggings, and gloves. If these items wear out then you have to replace them. If a worker loses or damages them through negligence, then it is up to that worker to replace them.  

There has been a recent update on the requirements of the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Order. There are more details about this in the Legal & Technical section of NFU Scotland’s website.

Looking after industry workers is important and providing the right clothing for them to carry out their work is the employer’s duty. Attracting and retaining the most skilled and productive workers is essential for the Scottish farming industry, and looking after the safety and welfare of our employees is key to this.

Reducing the risk of employing illegal workers

Blog by Caroline Virgo, The Clewer Initiative


You would think that slavery belongs in the past, but tragically modern-day slavery is very much part of the present, and farm businesses employing seasonal workers are at risk of unwittingly employing modern day slaves.  

How can this happen without the farmer even realising? The reality is that many farmers rely on third party recruitment agencies, or labour providers, to find seasonal workers and not all these third parties are legitimate and fair businesses. Across the UK, exploiters pose as legal labour providers, offering employers and farmers a ready supply of labour, while in fact they are forcing workers into jobs for little or no money. These highly organised, ruthless criminal gangs exploit the high demand for short term labour, often targeting migrant workers who may not be fluent in English or familiar with UK workers’ rights, making them more vulnerable to being coerced and controlled.

It is for this reason that the Farm Work Welfare App (FWWA) has been developed. It provides farmers and pickers with the information they need to avoid criminal organisations and navigate the challenges of seasonal employment. It contains lots of practical information and signposting on existing protections and the rights of workers such as freedom of movement and right to work.

The App is easy to use, and can be downloaded from Google Play and iOS App Store. It is a useful tool that can reduce the risk of you unwittingly breaking the law, helping put modern-day slavery in the past.


Soft fruit growers working for good worker representation

Blog by Angela Porchez, General Manager, Angus Growers


We are stepping up our worker representation at Angus Growers. Labour is absolutely essential to soft fruit production, and is also the biggest cost. Making sure that workers are content and productive is key to profitability.

This season, our growers are establishing worker committees alongside their worker voice programme. They will be registering with the NGaje ethical platform to give us good worker representation. The time-limited nature of seasonal work, along with its pay structure, makes this a much more workable and practical alternative to trade union engagement.  Our initial target is to get six of our farms fully certified with NGaje before the end of 2021, with the remainder of our farms following suit by the end of next year.

It is not always easy to hear workers’ voices when language barriers are in place, and this can be even harder with covid lockdown restrictions. We are confident that investing in improving the dialogue between our growers and their workers will pay off for everyone.

Angus Growers Ltd. is a soft fruit producer organisation based in Arbroath on the East Coast of Scotland, in the heart of the traditional Scottish berry growing area. The Company is owned and managed by 17 growers, the majority in Angus, Perthshire and Fife, who grow a variety of fruits and other crops; we market their strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries. We specialise in producing fresh fruit for the major supermarkets, shops, restaurants and food and drinks manufacturers.

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