The European agricultural landscape finds a sturdy foundation in the fruit and vegetable sector. This sector leans significantly on a foreign workforce, comprising migrant seasonal farm workers from both EU Member States and third-party countries.


Understanding the Role of Migrant Seasonal Farm Workers in the EU


The call for seasonal labor echoes loudly in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and Poland, witnessing a consistent surge in the number of migrant laborers dedicated to farming activities.

These individuals play an indispensable role in tasks demanding a lot of manual effort. Such tasks include cultivation, harvesting, and packaging, ensuring an uninterrupted flow of crop production.

The 2018 EU Agricultural Outlook shed light on a noteworthy trend: a substantial increase in the number of migrant farm workers in EU agriculture.

The period between 2011 and 2017 witnessed the departure of over 1.3 million local farm workers from the sector. These workers have been replaced by a combination of intra-EU and extra-EU migrant workers.

This shift mirrors the evolving landscape of European agriculture, characterized by larger farms and a heightened dependence on hired labor.


Regulatory Frameworks for Migrant Seasonal Farm Workers


The regulatory landscape governing migrant seasonal workers varies depending on whether they originate from an EU Member State or a third-party country.

Seasonal workers from EU Member States enjoy comprehensive equal treatment, working conditions, and access to social benefits. This aligns with Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)  and Directive 2014/54/EU.

Conversely, third-country nationals fall under the Seasonal Workers Directive (Directive 2014/36/EU). The Directive guarantees parity in employment conditions, minimum working age, and health and safety measures. It is also limiting their stay in the EU to five to nine months annually.

To learn more about the Seasonal Workers Directive and other measures taken by the EU to support migrant workers, check out this article.


The Harsh Realities of Seasonal Agricultural Labor


Despite being indispensable to agricultural productivity, migrant seasonal farm workers frequently grapple with challenging working conditions.

The labor-intensive nature of farm tasks, coupled with extended work hours and exposure to outdoor elements, poses health and safety risks to these individuals. Short-term contracts and limited social security coverage compound the precariousness of their employment.

Many seasonal farm workers find themselves isolated in rural areas, away from their families, residing in barns or basic shelters.


Tackling Challenges and Peering into the Future


The COVID-19 pandemic thrust the vulnerabilities of migrant seasonal workers into the spotlight. As a result, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in June 2020.

This resolution called for the diligent implementation of existing EU legislation, the formulation of new guidelines, and the establishment of long-term solutions. This aims to combat exploitative practices and safeguard the rights of workers.

As the EU grapples with the various aspects of agricultural labor, prioritizing the well-being and rights of migrant seasonal farm workers remains a paramount concern.

Acknowledging their indispensable contribution to EU agriculture requires concrete measures to enhance both working and living conditions. This, in turn, will foster a more sustainable and equitable agricultural sector.


Embracing Technological Advancements for Ethical Recruitment


To ensure an ethical recruitment process, we encourage all employers to use VideoWorkers when hiring from abroad. This innovative approach, based on short skill demo videos, not only ensures transparency but also guarantees legal employment.

By using VideoWorkers, you can play a role in creating a fair and responsible system for hiring migrant seasonal farm workers in EU agriculture. Create your free company account today and embrace the future of recruitment!

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