Labour requirements during the current Covid-19 pandemic

Seasonal work on farms and horticulture unit opportunities: At this time of year an elevated demand for seasonal workers will be needed on our local Northern Ireland farms and horticulture production units.

Soft fruit harvest is fast approaching and there may be opportunities to work in this sector in the coming weeks.
Soft fruit harvest is fast approaching and there may be opportunities to work in this sector in the coming weeks.

Farmers, do you have a vacancy or require additional labour/seasonal agricultural workers?

In these challenging times it’s important that the industry plan ahead and secure essential labour for the fast-approaching harvest season. 

The UFU encourage all farm businesses who have a job vacancy to register with Employers Online By doing this, job vacancies will be posted to JobCentre Online (JCOL) with immediate effect, on the day that you register. This is a free and effective service which provides opportunities for agriculture and horticulture.

As the employer, you can now notify and manage job vacancies online in a quick, easy and convenient way. JCOL reaches a wide number of people and is available and accessible for all those seeking employment. 

if you need support to place your vacancies please email [email protected] or telephone 02890909327 and speak with an adviser.

DAERA guidance for employers: This document can be accessed by using the following link:

Seeking employment full-time or seasonal work?

Agricultural and seasonal horticultural work on farms is suitable for people with all levels of experience. You do not need to have experience doing this type of work before as the farm or horticulture businesses will provide training.

This work can be indoors or outdoors depending on the crop and will require a degree of fitness as the work can be physical, involving frequent lifting and carrying of items or operating machinery.

The work will require a time commitment to the farm. Many farms are looking for full-time workers as well as seasonal workers for planting and harvesting.

Where to look for jobs

You can search for seasonal jobs on farms / horticultural production units from:

- – use the search term “seasonal worker”

- Check social media pages including Jobs & Benefits NI and Communities NI Twitter account

Furloughed workers can apply

If you are ‘on furlough’, you can apply for seasonal work provided your job contract says you can do other work. ‘On furlough’ is when your employer has kept you on the payroll even though there is no work because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You will still be entitled to receive 80 percent of your usual wages from the government. You should however check your job contract to make sure you are allowed to do other work.

Keeping safe within the workplace

Farm workers, provided they follow the government guidelines, can work safely. They are deemed as key workers involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery.

Farming and growing businesses are required to keep you safe by ensuring work premises are clean, observing social distancing measures in place and ensure all machinery meets safety guidelines

From 2021 a New UK Points-based System for migrant workers

From 1 January 2021 the Government will introduce a new UK points-based immigration system. The new system will transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family. It will also revolutionise the operation of the UK borders.  

The Government have published a guide for employers on the new points-based immigration system, which can be accessed by using the following link:

This is intended to provide an overview of the key changes that the new system will bring for businesses and the steps they can take to prepare.