Employees could be urged to support UK farmers during furlough

1 May 2020

It has been noted by George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that Furloughed employees could be encouraged to fill the labour shortage that the farmers are encountering.

It appears that due to the pandemic, only approximately one-third of the usual workforce for the harvest season are available and so many farmers are currently concerned about their ability to meet their obligations during this time.

Understandably, it has been suggested that the shortage in the workforce is a result of the necessary travel restrictions as many foreign workers are unable to travel and undertake the work, with domestic workers being harder to recruit, according to the farmers.

70,000 needed

The British Growers Association has confirmed that some 70,000 staff will be needed across the United Kingdom for this season as Mr Eustice has confirmed that only approximately one-third of the usual migrant labourers are currently in the UK and able to assist as they arrived before the country's lockdown rules were imposed.

The issue is expected to grow as the farmers get into the height of the harvest season, which has only just begun.

Employees across the UK that have been placed on furlough could be encouraged to assist if they are able and willing to. The Government's guidance on the furlough scheme has confirmed that employees could seek alternative work during the furlough period provided that they have their employer's permission to work elsewhere. We have already written short guidance on this.

Our expert team appreciates that these are unprecedented and uneasy times with many employers and employees being uncertain as to their rights for alternative work during furlough. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our team and take advantage of our current offer of a 30 minute FREE consultation for new and existing clients to assist with any such questions.

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This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.