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Covid-19 recovery plan – Opportunities for Employing Staff

21 September 2020

During the depths of lockdown, the daily routine was unchanged for farmers and crofters.

However, for another section of society things were changing drastically with many finding themselves out of work.

Covid-19 has driven many farms and rural businesses to consider what provisions they have in place to cover illness or absence in future.

For some, this has included investigating the possibility of taking on an extra pair of hands.

As lockdown starts to ease, the recovery plan includes incentives to try and get young people back into work and this presents employment opportunities for farms and rural businesses.

Adopt an Apprentice

Businesses that hire redundant modern apprentices aged 16 to 24 will receive a one-off payment of £2,000 to help with wage costs.

To be eligible, you must employ the apprentice for at least 12 months. If you subsequently make redundant an apprentice employed through the scheme, within the 12-month period, you would be required to refund the whole amount.

This payment is State Aid and will be paid under the de minimis block exemption (EU regulation 1407/2013). Employers will be eligible if they have received less than €200,000 state aid for any purpose in the last three years.

The apprenticeship training provider would be able to supply information on what training was still to be completed and would apply for the financial incentive on your behalf if all criteria were met.  Details of your local training provider can be found online.

Kickstarter Scheme

This scheme aims to create job placements for those aged 16-24 who would otherwise struggle to get into employment. The scheme will subsidise six-month work placements, for those on Universal Credit, by covering the cost of 25 hours’ work a week at the National Minimum Wage as well as associated employer National Insurance and pension contributions. However, unfortunately this scheme is not designed with small employers in mind. Applications can only be submitted directly by individual businesses if they are able to offer a minimum of 30 placements.

For those businesses who have fewer placements to offer, they must either join with other employers, their local authority or another organisation to create a minimum of 30 jobs before applying. If you require help in finding a representative, you can contact scotland.kickstart@dwp.gov.uk.

Collaboration would undoubtedly increase the time and effort it would take for farming businesses to apply to this scheme.

Additionally, the scheme will only fund the cost of 25 hours work per week at the National Minimum Wage not the Agricultural Minimum Wage set by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board. Therefore, even if the business did manage to get accepted, they would be required to pay the worker the difference. The Agricultural Minimum wage from 1 April 2020, for a young person with no qualifications in agriculture is £8.72 per hour.

The Adopt an Apprentice scheme would be well suited to those who are wishing to explore taking on an extra pair of hands without committing immediately to taking on an employee on a full-time basis however, there are substantial barriers for small employers with regard to the Kickstarter

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