Call to action to protect seasonal workers in the UK

FairSquare and its partner organisations in the Worker Interest Group, including the TUC and Unite, have today published a briefing setting out key actions for the next UK government to protect seasonal migrant workers from exploitation.

Since the Seasonal Worker Visa (SWV) was first piloted in 2019, government and independent reviews have highlighted that it is putting workers at risk of serious exploitation and abuse. This includes risks at the point of recruitment, such as deception, illegal fees and high debts, and risks in the UK, such as violations of employment rights, unsafe accommodation, and a lack of effective complaints and labour rights enforcement mechanisms. 

UN experts have said the SWV is actively contributing to this exploitation, and criticised lack of safeguards for workers. The new briefing calls on the next government to review the Seasonal Worker visa scheme in its entirety, to uphold the rights of workers. Principally, the organisations are calling for an urgent need for robust state-led rights protections, and monitoring and enforcement which rise to the challenges of this scheme and ensure accountability of private sector actors. 

The organisations state:

“The Seasonal Worker visa scheme requires wholesale reform – many of the issues for workers on the scheme are complex and interrelated, meaning it is not conducive to worker welfare to reform it on an incremental basis.”