Seasonal Agricultural Work – What You Need To Know Before Hiring Seasonal Workers

Seasonal agricultural work is an important part of the UK’s farming industry. It provides an opportunity for farmers to hire workers for a short period of time such as during the busy harvest season. Seasonal workers can help with tasks such as picking fruits and vegetables or tending to livestock. However, there are several factors that employers need to consider before hiring seasonal workers.

Legal Requirements

When hiring seasonal workers for agricultural work in the UK, employers need to understand the legal requirements that apply to their business. Below are some key legal requirements employers should be aware of.

National Minimum Wage Act

The National Minimum Wage Act is a law that sets out the minimum hourly rate that employers must pay their workers. The rate varies depending on the worker’s age and whether they are an apprentice. As of April 2023, the minimum wage rates in the UK are:

  • Age 23 and over: £10.42 per hour
  • Age 21-22: £10.18 per hour
  • Age 18-20: £7.49 per hour
  • Under 18: £5.28 per hour
  • Apprentice rate: £5.28 per hour

Employers must ensure that they pay their seasonal workers at least the minimum wage rate that applies to them.

Equality Act

The Equality Act is a law that prohibits discrimination against workers based on their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Employers must ensure that they do not discriminate against seasonal workers based on any of these protected characteristics.

Right-to-Work Checks

Employers must check that their workers are eligible to work in the UK by conducting right-to-work checks. This involves checking the worker’s identity documents to ensure that they have the legal right to work in the UK. Employers must keep a record of the right-to-work check for each worker. Failure to conduct right-to-work checks can result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

The UK Government does offer a seasonal work visa, allowing more workers to travel to the UK for work during busy periods. Workers on these visas can stay for differing amounts of time depending on the area of agriculture they work in.

A Seasonal Worker entering the UK for work in horticulture can stay in the UK for a maximum period of six months in any 12-month period.  A poultry production worker can stay in the UK for a period of time beginning no earlier than 2 October and ending no later than 31 December each year.

The Seasonal Worker visa is not a route to settlement and applicants cannot be joined by dependent partners and children.   

Seasonal agricultural work is an important part of the UK’s farming industry, and employers need to be aware of the legal requirements when hiring seasonal workers. By considering these factors, employers can ensure that they have a successful and busy season.

In order to qualify for a Temporary Work – Seasonal Worker Visa, they must qualify for a UK Visa, Workers must be:

  • aged 18 or over;
  • have a valid ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ from their employer with information about the role they have been offered;
  • be working in an eligible role, which falls within the list of ‘horticulture’ or ‘poultry production’;
  • have funds of at least £1,270 held for 28 days or the employer has to agree to cover their minimum costs equivalent to £1,270 during their first month in the UK;
  • have paid the visa application fee and Immigration Health Charge and provided any required biometric information;
  • the worker must not fall into a category for refusal under the general grounds for refusal.

The above are subject to variation, the precise requirements for entry will depend on the individuals circumstances. 

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact Spire Solicitors Employment team on 01603 677077 or email