Ensuring the wellbeing of seasonal workers is the responsibility of employers and providing poor conditions can be a trigger for mental health problems.
Seasonal working, modern day slavery and labour exploitation is an ongoing concern in the agricultural industry. The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) estimates 10,000-13,000 people are being exploited, including poor wages and working conditions.
Understandably coping with these pressures can have a damaging impact on a person’s mental wellbeing and not surprisingly will affect productivity.
But even when working conditions are good and plenty of breaks and recreational activities are offered, there could still be a member of the team who struggles. Spotting the signs early on and offering support is key to ensuring a team member gets the help they need.
Checking on your team regularly and asking supervisors, where appropriate, to look out for signs that someone isn’t coping well is recommended. Many seasonal workers will be living away from home and family support and, coupled with the hard work involved in seasonal work, it can become overwhelming for some.
Look out for warning signs of someone who isn’t coping, such as:
• Behaving differently than usual
• Not participating in activities that they were engaged in previously
• Frequent illness or not able to work.
The first step to helping someone, advises charity The Farming Community Network (FCN), is to start a conversation
“Encouraging the person involved to talk to someone about their problems is the best place to start,” said Sam Conway from FCN. “There are plenty of organisations, such as FCN, who are willing to listen and, if needed, arrangements can also be made to involve a translator.”
FCN has provided links and information for seasonal workers and growers in its online FarmWell information resource here.
Sam added: “FCN’s helpline is available to anyone working in the agricultural industry, including seasonal workers and managers of seasonal workers who are concerned about their workforce.”
To contact FCN, the helpline is 03000 111 999 or email email@example.com