Publication - Research publication

Farm workers in Scottish agriculture: case studies

Published: 25 Mar 2018
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Economy, Farming and rural, Research

Case studies examining farm workers in Scottish agriculture and the international seasonal migrant labour market.

152 page PDF

4.4 MB

152 page PDF

4.4 MB

Farm workers in Scottish agriculture: case studies

152 page PDF

4.4 MB

Commissioned report for the Scottish Government
Project No. CR2016/25

Authors: Steven Thomson 1 , Rob Mc Morran 1 , Joshua Bird 1 , Jane Atterton 1, Lorna Pate 1 , Elliot Meador 1 , Philomena De Lima 2 , Paul Milbourne 3
1 Scotland’s Rural College ( SRUC)
2 University of the Highlands and Islands
3 University of Cardiff

ISBN 978 1 78851 720 1 (web only)
PPDAS 386546
ISSN 2045 6964

This document is also available in pdf format (4.4MB)


An errata was published on 08/06/2018 at pdf pages 49 and 50, section 5.1 Background literature. Text has been updated to read: It should be noted that minimum wage disparities are shrinking across the EU, with some of the fastest increases coming in A8 and A2 countries, especially Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovakia and Latvia (Figure 20).

  • Grew by 55% in the UK from €902 in 1999 to €1,401 in 2018;
  • Grew nearly eight-fold in Bulgaria from €31 in 1999 to €261 in 2018;
  • Grew fifteen-fold in Romania from €27 in 1999 to €408 in 2018;
  • Grew five-fold in the Czech Republic, from €92 in 1999 to €478 in 2018.

The absolute growth in UK minimum wage rates compared to other EU countries means that the minimum wage gap has actually grown over the period (as shown in Figure 21), despite the considerable minimum wage rate growth in A2 and A8 countries previously discussed. However, since 2016 the UK has become less attractive and minimum wage differentials have fallen (ranging from €157 per month for Bulgarians to €287 per month for Romanians).

Figures 20 and 21 have been replaced.

The pdf and html have both been updated within the document to reflect these changes.



Executive Summary
Summary of Recommendations

1 Introduction and Background
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background

2 Methodology and case study selection

3 Trends and number of seasonal migrant workers
3.1 Background literature
3.2 The importance of migrant labour and key trends
3.3 Estimate of the extent of the seasonal migrant workforce

4 Worker characteristics, recruitment mechanisms and pathways
4.1 Background Literature
4.2 Farmer/stakeholder perspectives on recruitment mechanisms
4.3 Farmer/stakeholder perspectives on seasonality of labour needs
4.4 Worker perspectives on experience, pathways and progression

5 Worker motivations and perceptions of seasonal farm work
5.1 Background literature
5.2 Worker motivations
5.3 Worker perspectives on negative aspects of seasonal farm work
5.4 Worker perspectives on positive aspects of seasonal farm work
5.5 Farmer and stakeholder perspectives on worker motivations

6 The working and living conditions of workers
6.1 Background literature
6.2 Farmer and stakeholder perspectives on conditions of work
6.3 Worker perspectives on tasks, pay and conditions
6.4 Accommodation and transport

7 Family, community and integration
7.1 Background literature
7.2 Worker perspectives
7.3 Farmer and stakeholder perspectives

8 Worker retention, Brexit and key future challenges and opportunities
8.1 Worker perspectives on the future and returning to Scotland
8.2 Perspectives on Brexit
8.3 Farmer and stakeholder perspectives on key challenges and opportunities

9 International comparisons
9.1 International policy learning opportunities

10 Conclusions and recommendations
10.1 Conclusions
10.2 Recommendations


Appendix 1: Farm Business Survey

Appendix 2: Labour Provider Survey

Appendix 3: Migrant Workers Survey (English version)

Appendix 4: Worker Consent Form

Appendix 5: Themes for migrant worker interviews

Appendix 6: Worker Estimation
Estimating Seasonal Worker Numbers
Appendix 6a: Regression Analysis
Appendix 6b: Standard Labour Requirements and published casual labour requirements

The views expressed in this report are those of the researcher and
do not necessarily represent those of the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers.

This report is available on the Scottish Government Publications Website