Seasonal fruit picking jobs aren't a new thing, they have been available for many years, it's just the roles have been getting a lot more attention in 2020, as a way for people looking for a side hustle or extra work, due to their normal work being affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.
Many fruit farms have found themselves with a lack of staff/pickers, due to a large percentage of their normal staffing coming from Europe, and the travel restrictions put into place during lockdown, meaning their staff haven't been able to travel to the UK to help pick the crops, which leaves the farms with crops that need picking in the fields, and nobody to pick them! It's estimated that some 90,000 pickers are needed, otherwise a third of the crops could go to waste. As a result, there has been a lot of press and focus on recruiting within the UK for workers to help on the farms, with even the British Government helping out by confirming that even workers that have been furloughed are allowed to apply to help out. The Govenment have confirmed that:
"If you’re ‘on furlough’ from your job you can apply for seasonal work as long as your job contract says you can do other work. ‘On furlough’ is when your employer has kept you on the payroll even though there is no work because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
You’ll still be entitled to receive 80% of your usual wages from the government"
So what can you expect, working on a farm?
Well firstly, the roles are seasonal, most of the roles are for the Summer only , with some lasting into early Winter, but they aren't a year round work opportunity, (although that said, some farms do still need staff year round, but these are rarer), and as such it's a side hustle for a few months.
Seasonal work on farms is suitable for people with all levels of experience. You do not need to have done this kind of work before as the farm will provide training.
can be indoors or outdoors depending on the crop
is physical, involving frequent lifting and carrying of items or operating machinery
You’ll need to:
be able to make a time commitment to the farm - most farms are looking for full time workers
consider travel arrangements as the farm may be in a rural area or live on the farm in employer provided accommodation for a charge.
You may be asked to sow produce, harvest produce, transport produce or pack produce. There are many roles on a farm and the rate of pay will vary from role to role, and starts at the national wage minimum of £8.72 per hour, up to around £15.00 per hour. Each farm will have a their own pay structure.
Looking for a job on a farm is quite easy. Online is the easiest way. The Gov.UK website has a job search facility and by using the search term fruit or vegetable picking, you can find a large number of vacancies.
You can also Google for jobs, or it's also worth asking on a local Facebook group, as very often there will be people looking for workers locally.
Fruit and vegetable picking may not be the most glamorous role in the world, but during a time of exceptional need and changes to normal life, it's a good way to earn extra cash, as well as becoming an essential worker, and doing your bit to help feed the nation..
Information correct as of 1st June 2020, but subject to change.