Seasonal farm workers exempt from 14-day quarantine

17 November 2020

It has been confirmed that seasonal workers arriving in England in order to complete crucial work on farms prior to Christmas will be able to work from the moment that they arrive in the country.

Temporary measures have been published and mean that seasonal poultry workers who come from abroad will be allowed to work during their 14-day quarantine period. This is applicable from 4am on 17 November 2020.

They will still be required to self-isolate from the general public. In order to halt the spread of the virus, they will also be expected to form ‘cohorts’, which means that they can only reside and work with a particular group of the same workers during their stay, and that they are not permitted to mix with other employees.

The move was made to ensure that poultry farmers and food producers, particularly turkey farmers, will be able to supply Christmas food without risk as they will have access to the necessary workforce.

Approximately 5,500 seasonal workers arrive on English farms to assist during the busy period prior to Christmas each year, and they will be required to undertake duties such as slaughtering turkeys, which is a task that requires high-skilled professional labour.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said:

“Christmas dinner is the highlight of the year for many families and this year it will be particularly significant.

Businesses up and down the country have faced unprecedented challenges from Coronavirus and these measures will ensure UK farmers and food producers are supported and able to keep up with the Christmas demand over the festive period.”

These seasonal workers will be expected to comply with several measures, which include:

  • Self-isolation from the general public for the first 14 days
  • Cohorting – they will be placed in groups of people that they can live and work with, but they will not be permitted to mix with other workers
  • Workers and employers will be given clear guidance on how to be covid-secure
  • All seasonal poultry workers are expected to leave England by 31 December 2020

The rules differ from those imposed where individuals are entering into the country from a non-exempt country, territory or island. They will still be required to quarantine for a period of 14-days, and so will not be able to attend work until that period has passed.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.