You can apply to pick fruit even if you're furloughed or have lost your job - here's how

This is how to sign up to pick fruit and vegetables (Photo: Shutterstock)This is how to sign up to pick fruit and vegetables (Photo: Shutterstock)
This is how to sign up to pick fruit and vegetables (Photo: Shutterstock)

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect everyone across the UK, a new farming campaign is looking to offer a lifeline for those who have lost their jobs due to the virus.

Pick for Britain, a new government website, is bringing together farms facing labour shortages with those who have found themselves without work due to the coronavirus.

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This is everything you need to know, from what work is available to how to sign up.

What is the campaign?

The Pick for Britain website states: “Pick for Britain helps bring workers and employers together and ensures the UK can continue to deliver the best quality British fruit and veg for everyone to enjoy.

“Here, you will find growers, recruiters, and agencies that have job opportunities across the country.”

There is a wide range of roles available to choose from, varying from business to business.

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The website explains that “some of the work will depend on the weather, so flexibility in terms of hours you work will be required” and that “a good level of fitness is usually required”.

The campaign is in partnership with:

  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
  • Association of Labour Providers
  • British Growers
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • National Farmers Union

What work is available?

There are four main types of work you could be undertaking, depending on the farm you apply to.

Picking will include working outside in the fields, in polytunnels or glasshouses, picking fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, apples, peppers and asparagus.

Packing will involve working in a packhouse to sort the fruit or vegetables and pack into units, ready for distribution.

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Plant husbandry is all about keeping plants and farms healthy, and will require tasks such as planting, weeding, plant management and maintenance.

Farms may also have vacancies for workers to operate forklifts, tractors and vans.

What are hours and pay like?

This is what you need to know in regards to questions you might have about things like pay, hours and training:

  • Pay: your pay will be dependent on your employer and the time of work you do - however, you will always be paid at leads the national minimum/living wage
  • Hours: farms tend to work from first thing in the morning under mid-late afternoon, with packing done in shifts that can carry on until later in the day. Your hours will, again, be dependent on the employer and the type of work, so you’ll need to discuss this with the farm you apply to
  • Training: where necessary, full training will be given to individuals
  • Age: you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to work on the farms, but depending on the farm there may be some roles available for those as young as 16

Those working on the farms will be classed as key workers by the government, which means that you will be able to travel to and from work, and your children may still be able to attend their local school as a child of a key worker.

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Furloughed workers can sign up for Pick for Britain as long as their contract with their current employer allows it, or their employer agrees.

Individual farms may also offer volunteer positions.

How to sign up?

To see what jobs are available, just head to the jobs section of the Pick for Britain website here.

You can narrow your search to England, Scotland or Wales, or alternatively do a national search instead.

You’ll then be able to see a list of available jobs - click on the job you’re interested in and you’ll be taken to the website for that specific employer.

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From there, you’ll see the details of how to apply for that role on the individual websites.

Information for employers

If you own a farm or small business and need to advertise individual jobs, you can use the government’s free ‘find a job’ service to advertise your vacancies to those looking for work.

If you are a GLAA licensed recruitment company, or a grower, that has their own employment website, then Pick for Britain can add a link to your website on the jobs page.

You can submit your request for this on the Pick for Britain website by filling out the short online form.

The form requires the following information:

  • Company name
  • Postcode
  • Recruitment page URL
  • Brief business description
  • Contact name and email
  • Your GLAA Unique Reference Number (if known)
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