POW Certificate of Work

Category:  Prisoners of War

POW Certificate of Work

In North Yorkshire, POWs were often employed as farm labourers to make up for the shortage of workers who were serving in the armed forces. POW labour in the region was organised by the North Riding of Yorkshire War Agricultural Executive Committee (NRWAEC).

This Work Certificate is essentially a record of the labourers hired and the hours they worked. It had to be signed by the ‘Gang Leader’ (or 'Team Leader' today) and countersigned by the occupier of the farm. A slip at the bottom was then detached and kept by the NRWAEC.

On the reverse are the terms and conditions of employment, which tell us much about the working arrangements for POWs. In effect, the NRWAEC acted as an employment agency – when a farmer needed workers, he paid a fee to the NRWAEC, who then supplied labourers and paid their wages. A male labourer would cost a farmer 19 shillings (95p) for an 8-hour 40-minute day. A female labourer cost 14 shillings (70p) for an 8-hour day.

Farmers had no authority to pay the labourers directly, or give them permission to be absent. Labourers were expected to cycle up to four miles to their place of work, and were entitled to a mid-day break of one hour. The working day started early – 7.20 am for men, 8.00 am for women – and ended at 5.00 pm. On Saturdays, work finished at noon. No work was done on Sundays.

Exhibit data

Museum number:




Approx. size:

17 x 21cm
(6¾ x 8¼ in)