Tim Ridyard, from Ashton's Legal, explains what we know about the Government's HGV driver visa scheme
As food shortages continue in some of our supermarkets, more information has now been provided by the Government concerning temporary short-term visas for HGV drivers engaged in food transportation.
Full information about the scheme has not yet been disclosed.
But DEFRA has said:
- 4,700 visas will be available for drivers in the food sector and 300 will be available via this route for fuel driver visas. There is a separate number of visas available for poultry sector workers.
- The visas will last no more than three months. For HGV drivers, there is an application final deadline of December 1, 2021 – meaning for them the scheme would expire at the latest at the end of February 2022
- Potential employers cannot source drivers directly for this scheme. Instead, they must go through one of only four ‘Operators’ contracted for this: AG Recruitment, Concordia, Fruitful Jobs and Pro-Force. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis although operators will vet all applications.
- There will be no specific Government guidance on pay and working conditions but these will need to be attractive given the maximum visa period is three months. The would-be employer and operator facilitating the driver/worker entry into the UK will have to consider covering visa and service charges, travel, accommodation and other expenses.
- Where the driver is engaged in the transport of food to retailers, the Christmas period will need to be targeted.
- Businesses that require drivers or workers will have to enter an agreement with one of the four contracted operators who will then be a sponsor for the temporary workers. The process for granting of the visa involves many steps so businesses should therefore take action quickly to secure visas.
-- Tim Ridyard provides niche advice in the area of road transport law, including operator licensing. Contact him on 0330 404 0749 or email email@example.com