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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 20

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – update 20

21 Apr 2020

Job Retention Scheme
Updated guidance has been published on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, further guidance on how to calculate a claim, and a simple, step-by-step guide on GOV.UK.

The system goes live today and includes a calculator, allowing employers to check their calculations online before making a claim.

Employers should have all their information and calculations ready before beginning their application. They should retain all records and calculations, in case HMRC needs to contact them.

The Chancellor has announced that the Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month, allowing employers to furlough workers until the end of June.

Seasonal Workers hub - Pick for Britain
Defra has launched a new website bringing together those who are looking for work on UK farms over the harvest period with recruiters who have roles to fill. The website will act as a hub to signpost people to the jobs available and to provide information about this type of work.

Please direct any enquiries about the hub to: accesstolabourfoodchain@defra.gov.uk.

Defra is also asking for seasonal worker vacancies to be posted on the Government’s free ‘Find A Job’ website, which has more than 1.6 million registered users.

Reminder - Select Committee evidence
Last week we asked FPC members to provide evidence as part of our response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into labour in the food supply chain.

The key questions raised by the Committee are:

  • What impact will the Government’s proposed points-based immigration system have on labour in the food supply chain? Which sectors will be most affected by a reduced ability to recruit from abroad?
  • Will investment in staff retention, productivity, technology and innovation compensate for the Government not implementing an immigration route for “lower skilled workers”?
  • What impact has the Seasonal Workers pilot scheme had on agriculture and horticulture? What should be the future of the scheme, including whether it should cover more, or different, agricultural and horticultural sectors?
  • How many seasonal workers are required in agriculture and horticulture each year, and how can this demand be reasonably met from 2021?
    Deadline for comments to: sian@freshproduce.org.uk is Wednesday 22 April


Testing for the virus – frontline workers
The UK Government is looking to extend testing for the presence of the virus among frontline workers (those currently unable to return to work because they or a member of their family or household have symptoms of coronavirus) to include critical personnel in food and drink production. A further announcement is expected later this week.

Extension of Drivers Hours’ Temporary Relaxation
Dft and the DVSA have published updated guidance (click) on the temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules. The drivers’ hours relaxations apply from 00:01 on Monday 23 March 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020.

Temporary ban on certain exports from Egypt
Egypt has notified the World Health Organisation of a temporary ban on certain products, including 'leguminous vegetables', but with these exceptions:
- Peanuts, - fresh or chilled peas, - Fresh or chilled beans (Vigna spp., Phaseolus spp.), Frozen green beans. - White beans (Phaseolus spp.), - Canned chickpeas.

This move relates to the need to protect supplies to the domestic market and the notice indicates that 'changes made to the above-mentioned measures or new measures will be duly notified'.

For more details see the WTO notification

If you have any issues and queries please contact us.

The UK Government is looking to extend testing for the presence of the virus among frontline workers (those currently unable to return to