The government has backtracked on its controversial plan that would have set statutory minimum wages for seasonal worker scheme employees at a premium of 60p per hour more than the UK national living wage (NLW).
It has also said workers on the scheme can return to the UK after five months from the end of their previous visa – a month sooner than previously.
The pay premium plan was announced in December at the same time as the visa allocation for this year of 45,000 was published, and was due to come into force from April 1.
Defra has now confirmed the legal minimum national living wage will apply both to UK resident, and to seasonal worker scheme, employees.
Those with seasonal worker scheme visas will, however, still be entitled to a minimum of 32 hours per week employment.
The NFU calculated the seasonal worker pay premium would have meant a 13.5% inflation rate on growers’ wage costs. “The decision will provide great relief to growers, with labour being one of the highest costs associated with producing fruit and vegetables,” said NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw.
“The additional guarantee of a minimum 32 hours per week will help give workers confidence to travel to the UK.”
The ‘adult’ NLW rate for 2023/24 is £10.42, a 9.7% increase.