This page explains what the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) is and how you can apply. The page also gives information for farmers and growers wishing to employ seasonal workers.
The SAWS is designed to allow farmers and cultivators in the United Kingdom to recruit low-skilled overseas workers to undertake short-term agricultural work. The scheme works on a quota basis. Farmers and growers who contribute in the scheme are allowed to employ a fixed number of overseas workers though the scheme each year. In year 2008 the quota is 16,250 places.
To be eligible to apply to come to the United Kingdom under the SAWS you must be a national of either Bulgaria or Romania.
Candidates in the scheme will be issued with a work card. This work card gives them permission to work in the United Kingdom for a set period of time. Participants will be allowed to work in the United Kingdom under the scheme for up to 6 months.
The scheme is managed by 9 approved operators on our behalf. Home Office issue a fixed number of work cards to operators each year. Once these work cards have been issued to workers the scheme will be closed for the year and no more applications will be accepted.
SAWS workers will carry out low-skilled work including:
Employees/Workers will be paid at least the Agricultural Minimum salary and will be provided with accommodation by the farmer or grower employing them.
The SAWS is a short-term immigration visa type. If you come to the United Kingdom as a seasonal agricultural worker you will be given permission to work for a maximum of 6 months.
Requirements to recruit through the SAWS
You will be able to recruit seasonal labour through the SAWS provided that:
You must comply with the terms of the agricultural wages order for the relevant area of your premises, this details the rates of pay, accommodation and other terms and conditions within the agricultural and horticultural industry.
If you are accepted on to the scheme you will be the employer of any SAWS workers placed with you. As with any resident seasonal workers you may employ, SAWS workers are subject to the same legislation and regulation.
All employees are subject to the same tax and national insurance rules as resident workers.
In certain circumstances you may be able to loan out workers for a short period of time to other farmers or growers. You will only be able to loan workers to/from other farmers and growers who are contracted to the same multiple operator. All moves must be authorised by the operator.
The responsibility for placing and moving SAWS workers from farm to farm remains that of the operator at all time. You should contact them in the first instance with any questions.
If you meet the requirements for recruiting seasonal workers through the SAWS, you will need to contact one of our approved SAWS operators who will act on your behalf throughout the recruitment process.
The SAWS is managed on our behalf by nine approved SAWS operators in the United Kingdom. These operators are either sole operators who recruit SAWS participants to fill their own seasonal worker need or multiple operators who recruit SAWS participants on behalf of farmers and growers in the United Kingdom.
Unless you are an approved sole operator you will need to recruit SAWS workers through a multiple operator. Some multiple operators will only recruit workers on behalf of farmers within a certain area.
There are currently four multiple operators:
The operators are responsible for:
The SAWS is a quota-based scheme. The quota for 2008 is 16,250 places. These places are split across the nine operators.
How to Apply
If you want to recruit seasonal agricultural workers choose the operator you want to recruit your seasonal labour through.
Once you have chosen the operator you want to use you should contact them directly for them to assess your requirements and to begin the recruitment process.
The operator is responsible for:
When you make a request for a seasonal worker the operator you contact will need to visit your farm to assess whether you meet the requirements of the scheme. If you have any questions about the scheme, the operator should be able to provide you with further advice during the visit or put you in contact with someone who can answer your questions.
If the operator is satisfied with the visit you will be accepted on to the scheme. You will be asked to sign a formal written agreement with your operator. As a minimum, this agreement will specify:
The operator will periodically visit your farm and speak to the SAWS workers. These visits will make sure the requirements of the scheme continue to be met.
To ensure compliance with the scheme we may also visit your farm to interview both yourself and your workers.
All operators will charge you a fee for the service they provide. This fee is set by the operator. You should contact the operator to find out how much they will charge you for the service you require. You will want to consider the cost to you and level of service provide when deciding which operator you want to use.
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