HGV Drivers & Poultry Workers – Temporary Visas (Food Sector)
More information has now been provided by the Government concerning temporary short-term visas for HGV drivers engaged in food transportation.
Not all information is yet clear but the following guidance has been issued by DEFRA:
- 4,700 visas will be available for drivers in the food sector and 300 will be available via this route for fuel driver visas. (There is a separate availability for poultry sector workers where 5,500 temporary visas will be available but the final application date there will be 15 November. ) There is also a separate fuel driver concession for fuel drivers arriving in the UK between 1 and 15 October – see more information here: Concession for temporary leave to allow employment as HGV fuel drivers
- the visas will last no more than three months. For HGV drivers, there is an application final deadline of 1 December 2021 – meaning for them the scheme would expire at the latest at the end of February 2022
- potential employers cannot source drivers directly for this scheme. Instead, they must go through one of only four ‘Operators’ contracted for this: AG Recruitment, Concordia, Fruitful Jobs and Pro-Force. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis although Operators will vet applications to ensure that an attractive package is being offered
- there will be no specific Government guidance on pay and working conditions but these are said to need to be attractive. This would have to be the case, in any event, given the maximum visa period is three months that may not be attractive to drivers. It is not expected that an employer will pass on charges to employees and will have to consider visa and service charges, travel, accommodation and other expenses. All this is expected to be discussed between the would-be employer and whichever Operator is facilitating the driver/worker entry into the UK
- when is an HGV driver said to be operating “in the food sector” (definition). This is where the driver is engaged in the transport of food to retailers, the Christmas period said to be being targeted
- recruitment: the businesses that require drivers or workers will have to enter an agreement with one of the four contracted Operators. The Operator will then be a sponsor for the temporary workers. A Certificate of Sponsorship will be assigned to the prospective driver/worker in order to make an application for the temporary visa (T5). The driver/worker will then have to apply for the visa (online application and biometric data collection). Then, the application will be processed by the Government for the issue of the visa. As the decision takes 15 working days it would appear there will be a very small window of opportunity to make any impact on labour shortages. It should be noted that during busy periods it can take around four weeks to get biometric appointments, from which the visa processing time then runs. It is hoped that there will be prioritisation at this appointment stage for the short-term visas but no details have been provided to date. Businesses should therefore take action quickly to secure visas.
We will provide further updates in the near future. This is an area where there are constant new developments.
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