Furloughed staff can apply to work on farms - here's how

If you're looking for a way to keep yourself busy and help feed the nation while furloughed, you may want to consider fruit and veg picking.

The UK government has confirmed that workers currently on furlough (temporary leave from work) are able to supplement their income with work on farms, so long as their contract allows it.

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In fact, the government is actively encouraging furloughed workers - along with students - to seek work picking fruit and vegetables on farms in the coming weeks. This is because the some 70,000 seasonal workers, who usually come from abroad to do the job, will be prevented from doing so this year, as a result of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

The National Farmer's Union (NFU) believes that up to 95 per cent of the usual workforce will be lost this year, with fears that fruit and veg will be left to rot without anyone to pick it.

Where is the work, and what roles are on offer?

Industry body, British Summer Fruits, has put a map online of fruit farms across the UK where work is available. However, this doesn't represent every farm where jobs are up for grabs, so don't be disheartened if you can't see something near you - there are other ways to apply.

While the vast majority of roles will be harvesting work, there may also be some jobs using machinery or driving tractors on farms.

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How do I apply?

The easiest way to apply for seasonal farm work is through the HOPs labour solutions 'Feed the Nation' scheme.

The scheme is a partnership between recruitment charity Concordia and ethical labour providers HOPs and Fruitful, aimed at filling the vacancies left open by missing seasonal workers and ensuring that fruit and veg still makes it to supermarket shelves.

When applying, you'll need to fill in a form with some basic details. You'll then be sent a link to an online video interview platform, through which you can submit your interview.

If successful, you'll be matched with a role on a UK farm based on the preferences and skills you stated in your application. You'll then be able to decide whether or not to take the role.

You can find more information about the scheme and the work involved here.

All jobs have now been filled for April, but the alliance is currently recruiting for May.