Farm workers from the European Union have until the end of June to apply for settled status, a farming union has reminded businesses.
The government’s settlement scheme ensures that any EU citizen who does not already have indefinite leave to remain can retain their rights to live and work here.
It is available to those who were living and working in the UK in a seasonal, temporary, or permanent capacity before 31 December 2020,
With applications for settled status to be in by 30 June 2021, NFU Scotland has told farming businesses that 'time is of the essence' to avoid disruption.
“Keeping good workers makes good business sense for farmers”, said George Jamieson, the union's education and skills policy manager.
"We know the significant value that migrant workers bring to the industry and their knowledge and skills developed over years of employment are essential.
"As an employer, it’s vital to be aware of the EU settlement scheme and its impending deadline.”
Employers of seasonal workers from the EU who worked in the country in 2020 or before can encourage returnee workers to register for pre-settled status.
Individuals who achieve pre-settled status can stay in the UK for a further five years from the date that pre-settled status is achieved.
Pre-settled status also entitles individuals to up to two years in a row outside the UK without losing their status.
This can be a big bonus for the soft fruit sector according to David Michie, NFU Scotland's crops policy manager.
“Migrant workers are a critical part of the soft fruit and vegetable sectors’ success," he explained.
"Good workers that know the job and return every year are a huge asset to our members’ businesses, and it is in their best interests to encourage these workers to apply for settled status."