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Seasonal workers subject to two-week quarantine, working group recommends

Ministries and the employment agency are also aiming to get out-of-work residents into seasonal employment.

Sortavalalaiset Artem ja Irina Klemzikova poimivat mansikoita Venälän tilalla Kuopiossa
File photo of seasonal workers picking strawberries in Kuopio. Image: Sakari Partanen / Yle

A Ministry of Employment and Economy working group - tasked with figuring out how to safely orchestrate the arrival of seasonal agricultural workers from abroad in the coronavirus age - has set up guidelines to put them to work.

Every spring and summer thousands of foreigners arrive to work temporary jobs in Finland’s fields, greenhouses, berry bushes, fisheries and other sectors. But the country's closed borders due to the ongoing novel coronavirus epidemic has created questions over whether there will be enough seasonal workers this year.

The ministry’s working group noted that seasonal workers are an essential part of the country’s food production and their ability to carry out agricultural work must be ensured, even under exceptional circumstances.

The group said individuals coming to the country to work will be required to be quarantined for a two-week period upon arrival. The migrant workers’ employers will be responsible for arranging transportation from their point of entry to quarantine locations.

Furthermore, employers will be required to provide and follow coronavirus-related safety guidelines to arriving workers.

Domestic help wanted, too

The employment ministry said the group’s policies will initially apply to the arrival of about 1,500 foreign workers, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been charged with promptly providing employers with more information about the rules.

In addition to Finland’s foreign labour force, measures concerning domestic seasonal workers are also being drawn up, according to the working group.

The two ministries and the country’s employment office (TE services) have decided to quickly launch a campaign aimed at attracting young people, immigrants, furloughed workers and the unemployed to working seasonal jobs.

The ministries have also considered ways to import workers from Ukraine and Russia.

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