Seasonal Worker Scheme Taskforce

Industry trade bodies, retailers, growers, recruiters and non-profits came together in March 2023 to establish the Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS) Taskforce. The Taskforce’s mission is to ‘work collaboratively to develop and implement tangible actions to help safeguard and ensure access to workers’ rights in the UK Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS) and wider UK horticulture.

The Taskforce set out to do this in two key ways:  

  • By developing practical actions that can be implemented within current Scheme design to improve the responsible recruitment and employment of seasonal workers; and,    
  • By engaging relevant Government departments on potential changes to Scheme rules, regulation, oversight and enforcement to address structural issues within the Seasonal Worker visa which may exacerbate worker exploitation risks and undermine efforts to safeguard workers’ rights      

The Taskforce is currently made up of over 50 member organisations including retailers, growers, suppliers, Scheme Operators, industry and membership associations, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, who actively contribute to and support the various working groups and activities. Some of these organisations are also Funding Members – see here for further details.

SWS Taskforce Workstreams

WorkstreamObjective
1. Education, information and grievance mechanismsTo support and enable provision of appropriate, comprehensible information to workers pre-decision, pre-departure, on-arrival and on-farm to inform decision making, manage expectations and drive a positive Scheme experience;  To review access to and effectiveness of existing grievance mechanisms and recommend future actions
 2. Due diligence and good practice during recruitmentTo increase understanding of country-specific risks, improve the quality and integrity of Scheme Operator assessment, and increase supply chain transparency to enable more effective due diligence
3. Due diligence and good practice on-farmTo support growers to reduce risks and enhance the recruitment and on-farm experience of seasonal workers.
4. Improving worker financesTo make tangible progress on improving the overall finances of workers recruited to work in the Seasonal Workers Scheme including through eliminating worker-paid recruitment fees and related costs, maximising overall retained earnings and having a rights – compatible clear process and defined responsibilities for recruitment fee remediation including root cause analysis to avoid reoccurrence and abuse.
5. Policy development, enforcement and stakeholder engagementRefining Policy Asks of Workstreams and emerging areas, to be approved and authorised by Governance Committee

For the latest workstream updates, see our February 2024 progress update.

Taskforce activities are governed by a multi-stakeholder Governance Committee with representatives of the Association of Labour Providers, British Retail Consortium, Cobrey Farms, Concordia, Co-op, Ethical Trading Initiative, Fresh Produce Consortium, Food Network for Ethical Trade, Fruitful Jobs, Gs Fresh, M&S, PDM Produce, Pro-Force, Unseen, Waitrose and co-ordinated by Stronger Together, as Secretariat.

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Funding Members

Contact us

Businesses and non-profits interested in joining the Seasonal Workers Scheme Taskforce can contact swstaskforce@stronger2gether.org for information on the Taskforce Terms of Reference and further information on workstream progress and activities.