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COVID-19 Guidance for engaging seasonal workers

Agriculture and rural business / 27 August 2021

If you engage seasonal workers from outside of the UK to pick fruit and vegetables, you should carefully consider your obligations in relation to COVID-19 and ensure that you are compliant. 

The government has published guidance for workers travelling to the UK for seasonal agricultural work in the form of fruit and vegetable picking, and for those farms and others who engage such workers. It applies to seasonal workers under the Seasonal Workers Pilot and for EU workers with settled or pre-settled status.

The majority of the guidance is directed at the workers and what steps they must take before arriving in the UK, and in the immediate stages after their arrival.  These steps vary depending on whether they are travelling from (or through) green, amber or red list countries.

There are also obligations on you if you engage seasonal workers or if you are a labour provider or agency.  These obligations are set out within the guidance and are summarised below:

1.       You should ensure that you provide the workers with documentary evidence to confirm that they are travelling to your farm/workplace to carry out seasonal agricultural work.  The workers need these documents before they travel so they can show them at the UK Border.

2.   You should ensure that all of the workers clearly understand the safety procedures that you have in place in relation to COVID-19, including giving clear instructions about their working and living arrangements, how to stay safe, information about testing, and what to do if they develop symptoms.

3.  You should help your workers to access rapid lateral flow tests and support them in a way that allows them to take a rapid lateral flow test twice weekly.  If they test positive, you should help them to obtain a confirmatory PCR test.

4.  You should put workers who are arriving from amber list countries into groups of six and strictly limit contact with anyone else for 10 days.  You can keep groups after this period if you wish.  You should group people based on their arrival at the farm/workplace within a 24-hour period.  Workers should live and work in these groups.

5.  Workers from green list countries may be grouped with workers from amber or red list countries in certain situations.  For example, amber list workers who have been fully vaccinated (subject to certain additional criteria) or red list workers who have completed 10 days in managed quarantine.  For more information about grouping workers together, please see the guidance

This is a rapidly changing area and it is important to check the guidance as it may be updated from time to time.  Even once these steps are in place, we recommend that you keep your practices under review and implement any required changes.

If you require any advice about the Government guidance or engaging seasonal workers more generally, please get in touch.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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