HOPS’ audits have highlighted some of the key successes, as well as areas for improvement, that have been spotted on farms in 2019.
HOPS’ independent auditors assess growers’ farms to ensure they comply with HOPS’ rigorous standards, which include meeting legal obligations.
During 2019, the auditors have been impressed with the improvements they are seeing in accommodation – especially those who are thinking about recreational spaces for seasonal teams.
Auditor Dave Back said: “I was really pleased to see that some farms had created recreational areas or added more outside seating to create communal spaces for their teams to meet. The standard of accommodation is much improved across the board – but in some cases there is a requirement to do more.”
Improving accommodation facilities could reap benefits for all concerned, advised Dave.
“In some cases where farmers are maintaining their facilities at a high standard, they are finding their seasonal teams are more likely to look after the accommodation and – perhaps more importantly – willing to complete the season and possibly return again.”
One area of concern the auditors highlighted was around data protection and privacy statements, which has been a legal requirement for all businesses to have in place since May 2018.
Dave explained: “It was good to see that farms recognised and complied with GDPR but there are a few farms that need to improve their privacy statements to make them more clear and robust. There’s loads of guidance on the Government website and HOPS can also send samples to farms and provide guidance on creating a statement.”
During the annual audits, organised by HOPS, seasonal workers are also asked for their views on the work and conditions. One positive area the auditors highlighted was where the farm manager/owner had made contact with the seasonal team.
“I have seen a big improvement in inductions taking place,” said Dave. “It makes all the difference if the farmer/owner actually makes the effort to meet the team. There’s a much better atmosphere and relationship on the farms that do this as it puts a face to a name and shows a level of appreciation,” said Dave.
All farms are given a copy of their audit so they can see where they are doing well and what areas they need to improve on. Any urgent issues that are spotted are always given a short timescale to be rectified.
Dave’s top tips for 2020
Based on feedback from seasonal workers and best practice that has been spotted on farms. Dave Back shares his top tips for improvement in 2020
- Always meet your team during the induction process – it makes a difference to them and to you.
- Think about the areas on your farm that you create for recreational. purposes. If your team only work seven hours of the day, it’s helpful to provide activities, such as table top games or sports, or areas for them to relax and be entertained.
- Consider offering or improving wifi – it’s a common request from seasonal workers so they can stay connected to home and search the internet. It can make your farm a more attractive place to work.
- Clean-up your accommodation – no one wants to sleep on an old, dirty mattress or shower in an unhygienic cubicle with mouldy seals. Your team are usually paying money towards the cost of their accommodation – make sure it lives up to an acceptable standard.
- Think about the equipment you provide – a small under the counter fridge is probably not going to store much food in shared accommodation. If you live far from the nearest shop, make life easier and provide freezers and larger fridges.
- Offer incentives to workers to complete the season – such as providing free accommodation for the final month, inviting them to stay for an extra couple of weeks beyond their contract free of charge to experience the UK, paying for the return flight home or introducing a bonus scheme.