Seasonal Worker Scheme
For purposes of transparency and the management of our supply chain, at this moment in time, we have plans to recruit nationals of the following countries for 2023:
Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. If you are not a citizen of one of these countries, please do not apply. We do not recruit in Nepal, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
No HOPS member of staff, any representative office or partner government body will ever ask you to pay any fees. If you are asked to pay fees, please report it to HOPS here
What is the Seasonal Worker Scheme?
The Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS) is a UK Government Scheme of which HOPS is an authorised operator. It provides farmers and growers in the UK with a source of labour to meet their workforce demand for seasonal positions within the horticulture sector, which is defined by Defra as:
Protected Vegetables (glasshouse production)
Field Vegetables (outside production including herbs, leafy salads and potatoes)
Soft Fruits (outdoor and covered)
Vines and Bines (hops and grapes)
Bulbs and cut flowers, grown outdoors and indoors
Pot plants and bedding plants
Hardy ornamental nursery stock (Christmas trees, shrubs)
Tree and forest nurseries
What type of work is available under the SWS?
Most the seasonal work within the edible-horticulture sector is in the fruit sector (55%) and the vegetable/salad sector (25%). Work is usually manual and unskilled so no experience is necessary and full training will be provided. There are limited roles available within machinery (e.g. forklift, tractor) where a licence will be required. There are opportunities for development.
Where workers are expected to drive vehicles, they will need to demonstrate that they have the required license and can drive vehicles competently and safely on UK roads.
General primary production work in edible and ornamental horticulture
Crop maintenance, harvesting, husbandry
Tunnel construction and dismantling
Packing and processing of crops
Preparing and dismantling growing areas and media
Supervising horticultural workers
Who is HOPS and what is their involvement with SWS?
HOPS connects farms in the UK and people from overseas looking for work in the horticultural sector. We have a dedicated team to help ensure your recruitment and placement runs smoothly. HOPS will ensure high standards from the farms in relation to wages, accommodation and working conditions. Our aim is to provide support to both employers and workers to help both parties achieve the best from one another.
Working with HOPS
HOPS uses a software platform called The Gateway to manage all recruitment and placements of workers to farms. All work information, the HOPS Seasonal Worker Scheme guidance and specific farm information is provided by The Gateway. You will be expected to set up an account and use The Gateway to ensure you are provided with the correct information at all times.
All your employment documentation will be provided to you by The Gateway before you leave your home country.
Use of The Gateway is free for all workers. You should never be asked to pay to use it. If you need help in using the Gateway please watch the help videos, ask the person who recruited you or ask your employer.
How are workers recruited?
No HOPS member of staff, any representative office or partner government body will ever ask you to pay any fees. The only fees you should pay are detailed in the section below. If you are asked to pay fees, please report it to HOPS here
Under the Seasonal Workers Scheme in theory, we can recruit workers from across the world however in practice to ensure an ethical and reliable recruitment infrastructure we focus our recruitment on certain countries. The countries we recruit in for 2023 include Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. We are not currently planning to add to this list of countries for 2023.
Please note if you are a returnee worker, we will only accept invitations directly from Employers for specific named workers to return for a following season. Our recruitment offices and representatives will not accept a returnee worker unless the name is confirmed by an Employer into their requirements on The Gateway system.
If you are a new applicant and wish to find out how to apply or be considered, please click here
What are the costs for workers?
You should expect to pay for the following:
VISA Application Fee, £298, payable directly to the UK Government website www.gov.uk/season-worker-visa
Depending on country, a maximum fee of £80 to TLS Contact to register your biometrics for your VISA
Travel to the UK and onwards to the farm
Please bring £150-£200 GBP to support your living costs until your first pay is received
Please be aware, other fees maybe necessary depending on country of origin. More details are provided in the HOPS presentation and HOPS Worker Handbook.
You should not be asked to pay for any other fees or services. If you are, please report it to HOPS by emailing us here.
To be part of the Seasonal Worker Scheme, HOPS will sponsor you in gaining a Seasonal Worker Visa. Under this VISA there a number of restrictions and obligations you must adhere to:
You are restricted to only working at a HOPS authorised farm
The VISA does not give the right to work anywhere or for anyone in the UK
If you wish to leave your farm, you must submit a transfer request via your Gateway Placement profile and submit a leaver form to your farm
The VISA only allows you to be in the UK for a maximum 6 months
You can only apply for one 6-month VISA in any 12-month period
You do not have access to public funding to cover such services as the NHS (National Health Service) HOPS do provide you with free medical insurance however there is an excess for use of the policy
You must provide evidence to your farm and HOPS when you leave the UK via The Gateway
You are permitted to leave the farm to enjoy and explore the UK during time off
HOPS may withdraw our sponsorship of you at any time during your stay in the UK and before the end of your VISA. Once HOPS sponsorship is withdrawn you are no longer permitted to be in the UK and you must leave the country. Failure to do so will make it impossible for you to return to the UK in the future.
What are the working hours?
This is dependant on the needs of the farm, crop/harvest and weather. Each week can range from a few hours to 5 or 6 full days and you may be asked to work longer hours for a period.
Through the SWS you will be guaranteed a minimum of 32 hours pay for each full week or 7 day period. This may include holiday pay.
You will receive your first wages around 7-14 days after you start work. In the UK, every employer is required to pay their employees at least a specified minimum wage. Under UK law, all participants of the SWS will be paid no less than £10.42 per hour since 1st April 2023, this figure will increase from April 2024. Check the GLAA website for the most up to date information www.gla.gov.uk/i-am-a/i-am-worker/your-rights . Please be aware, some farms will pay monthly.
Often your pay will be calculated by the piecework method where the crop you pick is weighed or counted and you are paid for each kilogram or box. Therefore, the harder the work the more you will be paid. On this system, most workers earn more than the minimum rate per hour. For more information visit www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-different-types-work/paid-per-task-or-piece-of-work-done
Further advice for agricultural workers can be found here www.gov.uk/agricultural-workers-rights/pay-and-overtime
Accommodation charges vary across farms dependent on the wage rates paid however they all need to comply with the Accommodation Offset regulations which can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/am-i-getting-minimum-wage. This simple online calculator will tell you if the amount you are paying for accommodation is in line with the regulations. If you find that your wages do not meet the regulations, please report this to HOPS as soon as possible and we will support you.
You will receive a payslip on or before payday. It is important you keep these along with a record of your work.
Deductions from wages
Deductions you should expect to be made from your wages may include:
· National Insurance
· Income Tax Contribution
· Accommodation costs
You will be paid for holiday you have accrued only. Your maximum entitlement to paid holiday is 5.6 weeks per year. Requested time off will be authorised by your manager or supervisor to fit around work requirements.
Worker rights and protection
You are entitled to certain employment rights including:
· National Minimum Wage/Government Stated Minimum Wage for SWS participants
· Protection against unlawful deductions from wages
· Statutory minimum level of paid holiday
· Statutory minimum level of rest breaks
· To not work more than 48 hours per week (option to opt out)
· Protection against unlawful discrimination
· Protection for “whistleblowing” (reporting wrongdoing in the workplace)
· Pension (you will be auto-enrolled after 3 months of work)
· To not be treated less favourably if you work part-time
Please speak with your HOPS representative for other entitlements e.g. Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay.
Health and safety
You are entitled to work in environments where risks to your health and safety are properly controlled. This is the responsibility of your employer. It is your responsibility to take care of your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your actions at work. It is your responsibility to follow Health and Safety rules set out by your employer.
If you have concerns at any time, contact your manager/supervisor or HOPS representative.
We are committed to upholding government regulations and maintaining the trust and confidence of our workers. We only collect personal data is order to provide recruitment services. All information is held in a secure cloud based platform (The Gateway). We will hold your data for legal business purposes for a period of up to five years.
You have the following rights regarding your personal data:
· Access to data
· Correction to data
· A copy of your data to be transferred to another organisation
· Ask for your data to be deleted
To request any of the above you must contact us immediately.
Working time regulations
The Working Time Regulations implement the European Working Time Directive which provides workers with fundamental rights and decision:
A worker can only be required to work up to a limit of 48 hours a week. An individual may agree to work more than 48 hours per week. If so, he or she should sign an opt-out agreement, which they can cancel usually with 7 days’ notice or 3 months depending on employer contract.
Employers cannot force a work to sign an opt-out and you cannot be dismissed for refusing to sign one.
Accommodation provided from farms can range from static caravans (most popular) to cottages to hostels. These will all be detailed on The Gateway. You should expect some communal facilities. In most cases, accommodation is single sex and therefore the provision for cohabitating couples is not always possible.
Provisions in the accommodation will be detailed on The Gateway.
HOPS will visit each farm to ensure the accommodation provided is of a suitable standard for our workers. This includes inspections to ensure standards of safety are met by employers.
You may be asked to pay for wilful damage to the accommodation or cleaning charges if it is left in a particularly dirty condition.
All additional information including the Complaints procedure can be found here.
How do I find out more?
Please go to our website www.hopslaboursolutions.com, which is being updated constantly.
If you are a HOPS worker, and require support, please look at your Worker Handbook on your Gateway account, where additional contact details are available.
If you are a worker with an invitation from an employer as a returnee, please contact your employer.
HOPS Labour Solutions Ltd
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 698000