Worker shortage is a headache for us all

Dec 14th, 2021

Andrew Fearn, Consultant Solicitor

Once again, Santa is struggling! Christmas is not far away, and present wrapping is just not going quickly enough. Some of the elves are self-isolating and other areas of the North Pole workshops are short of seasonal elf-workers.

It’s something of a common theme which has caused a great deal of anguish in the agricultural world since the flow of workers from overseas decreased following Brexit. Even seasonal workers from Australasia have not made it to the UK because of the Covid lockdowns in their home countries.

One of the solutions to the seasonal worker problem put in place by the government is the Seasonal Worker Visa scheme. When Santa saw this, he was much encouraged and thought that it might be the solution to his elf shortage. (To avoid all doubt, this is not a reference to any perceived height disadvantage which might affect the elf community.)

Sadly, he was disappointed because the Visa scheme is limited to workers in fruit and vegetables, pork butchery, poultry work and driving HGVs to deliver food. At least it proves that the government is prepared to consider issues in specific labour markets but, to use an equine analogy, it is often after the horse has bolted. Santa realises that he has left it far too late to be included in the visa scheme, but he has made a note for next year.

Santa was also watching the COP26 gathering in Glasgow with great interest. At least he has always operated on a zero-carbon basis as his operation is obviously powered by fairy dust and he doesn’t need any fossil fuels for his sleigh. Privately, though, he is a bit bothered by the methane which the reindeer produce.. In fact, he did think of diversifying during the COP26 conference by hiring out Rudolph and the others to avoid all the need for private jets being used by world leaders. Unfortunately, despite the speed of the sleigh (many times supersonic), he couldn’t take elves off their other duties to act as ‘sleigh-crew’.

Hopefully, though, they will all catch up before Christmas Eve and then relax with a mince pie and suitable liquid refreshment – provided, of course, that enough HGV drivers apply through the Visa scheme.

Original content provided for the Newark Advertiser and reproduced. 

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