A SURVEY panel has called on the government to give returning seasonal agricultural workers access to social benefits.
The Economic and International Affairs Review Panel, chaired by Mary MP David Johnson says that in order to make Jersey attractive to the seasonal worker, additional benefits must be offered.
In their report, the panel says there ‘should be some degree of flexibility’ when dealing with recurring seasonal workers.
The panel has recommended that the Minister for Social Security, Deputy Minister Judy Martin, review this policy and that a system be introduced whereby seasonal workers returning after a previous, consecutive nine-month employment contract can freeze social security benefits for the three months , they are off the island. The employees must then be able to release these on return the following year and have access to social security, “they say.
The panel adds that they were “disappointed” to learn that the compensation in housing for workers, which was at £ 91 per. week, had not been increased in 2022, despite an increase in the minimum wage. They say that in order to make Jersey an attractive place, “additional benefits” must be offered.
“This placed an additional burden on employers in terms of costs, as they were unable to cover any increase in value attributable to housing costs even if they paid the higher wages. The panel has recommended that this be reviewed and the set-off increased in line with the minimum wage with immediate effect, ”they say.
They have also recommended that a “communication channel” be set up with the Jersey Customs and Immigration Service and the UK Immigration Service to allow seasonal workers’ employers to receive updates on the status of visa applications.
They also recommend removing the £ 115 work permit fee for each returning employee.
Deputy Johnson said: ‘Implementing the recommendations outlined in our report will allow for greater flexibility and reduced costs for employees and employers, ensuring that despite the challenges posed by Brexit and Covid-19, Jersey remains an attractive place for agricultural workers to return to. work year after year. ‘