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Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scrutiny Report

Apr 12, 2022

Call to allow returning agricultural workers to access Social Security benefits

The Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel has published a report examining the employment of seasonal workers in the agricultural industry.

Amongst the 14 key findings listed in the report, the Panel found that: 

  • Seasonal workers who return each year are not entitled to Social Security benefits for the first six months of employment and, to cover this period, private health insurance is regularly taken out by the employer at the cost of £150 
  • The offset for accommodation did not increase in line with the 2022 minimum wage but remained at £91 despite the minimum wage increasing by almost 11% 
  • The combined fees for each employee before beginning employment are estimated to be over £1900 Delays to work visas issued in the UK occur without explanation and there is no direct contact for employers to get in touch with the UK Immigration Service 

In turn, the Panel has recommended that the Minister for Social Security: 

  • Implements a system which allows seasonal workers who return to Jersey following a previous, consecutive nine-month contract of employment to access Social Security benefits 
  • Increases the offset in accommodation rates in line with the 2022 minimum wage In addition, the Panel has recommended that the Minister for Home Affairs: 
  • Allows for some flexibility within the seasonal and temporary work permit 
  • Removes the £115 work permit fee for each consecutively returning employee 
  • Establishes a direct line of contact with the UK Immigration Services to ensure employers receive updates on the status of delayed visas 

The Panel is, however, pleased to note that the Minister for Health and Social Services is bringing forward revised rules to ensure that returning seasonal workers are entitled to free healthcare on their return to the Island if they have lived and worked in Jersey for at least six months continuously, three years before the date of their treatment. 

Chair of the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel, Deputy David Johnson, said: “The Panel would like to thank industry stakeholders and Ministers for their insight into the issues experienced by seasonal agricultural workers and their employers. Whilst we are very pleased to hear that policy is being revised to provide some returning workers with access to free healthcare, we believe that the Government could do more to assist the agricultural industry. 

Implementing the recommendations outlined in our report would allow for greater flexibility and reduced costs for employees and employers, ensuring that, despite the challenges caused by Brexit and Covid-19, Jersey remains an attractive place for agricultural workers to return to work year on year.”

Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scrutiny Report

Scrutiny Press Release.

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