On 2nd July 2018, the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive was transposed into Irish law. Ireland has now introduced new provisions to facilitate access to the labour market for eligible international protection applicants. Access to the labour market is limited to people who have not received a first instance recommendation within 9 months.
The decision to opt-in to the Reception Conditions Directive followed a Supreme Court declaration, in February 2018, that Ireland’s ban on employment was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court case was taken by a Burmese national who had spent eight years living in Direct Provision. See the timeline below for more details on the case and the Government’s response.
Read our press release following the announcement, here: “Doras welcomes right to work for asylum seekers”
TIMELINE - RIGHT TO WORK
- Supreme court considers an appeal from a Burmese national, who spent eight years living in Direct Provision before he received refugee status. (January 2017)
- European Database of Asylum Law (EDAL) case summary
(N.H.V. and F.T. v. The Minister for Justice and Equality (Respondent) and the Irish Human Rights Commission (Notice Party)  IEHC 246, 17 April 2015)
- EDAL post, comment on the case by Maria Hennessy, Legal officer at Irish Refugee Council
- Link to Irish Times article
29th May 2017:
- A landmark ruling on 29th May 2017 could have significant consequences for asylum seekers and the right to work in Ireland. Read the full decision here: Supreme Court ruling
- The Court has been adjourned for six months (from May 2017) to allow the legislature time to respond.
- Analysis of and background to the ruling and right to work issues in Ireland: Human Rights in Ireland blog (Liam Thornton)
21st November 2017:
- Six months after the Supreme Court ruling, the Government returned to court to outline the response to the judgement.
- The Government committed to opting-in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive, which sets out minimum conditions for asylum seekers, including access to the labour market no later than nine months after an initial asylum application.
- No further detail on the right to work for asylum seekers has been release d but the Government has indicated that there will likely be restrictions placed on the categories in which asylum seekers may work.
- On 9th February 2018, the Supreme Court will declare Ireland’s ban on employment to be unconstitutional at which point Ireland will need to introduce measures facilitating the right to work.
- Opting-in to the EU Directive could take upwards of four months from the time of initiating the process with the EU Commission.
9th February 2018:
- The Supreme Court has declared Ireland’s ban on employment to be unconstitutional.
- From 9th February 2018, asylum seekers are now permitted to apply for an employment permit as part of the interim measures introduced by Government, while it is opting-in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive.
- The employment permit process is very restrictive and requires people to have secured employment in restricted sectors with a salary of a minimum of €30,000 per year.
- The Government has indicated that it will introduce less restrictive measures when opting-in to the Directive later this year. No detail on the proposed arrangements have yet been published.
2nd July 2018:
- Ireland transposes the long-awaited EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive into Irish law.
- From 2nd July, eligible asylum seekers can apply to INIS for permission to seek employment.
- Eligibility for permission to seek employment is limited to applicants for international protection have not received a first instance recommendation within 9 months.
- For full eligibility and application details, visit the INIS website.
- The EU Directive requires additional measures, further to the right to work, to be implemented, to ensure compliance with all standards contained within. See here for more information on the Directive: EU Reception Conditions Directive
Yes. Until now, Ireland was one of only two EU member states to have a complete ban on employment for asylum seekers – the other country is Lithuania. Almost all EU member states (26 EU member states) allow asylum seekers to work after a number of months, ranging from almost immediate access to the labour market up to a 12 month waiting period.
The EU ‘Reception Conditions Directive’ sets out minimum standards of reception conditions for asylum applicants, including access to the labour market and vocational training no later than nine months after making their application.
Ireland, UK and Denmark were the only EU member states to not have opted-in to the EU Reception Conditions Directive. Ireland had not previously opted in to the Directive because of the requirement to allow asylum seekers access to the labour market. Ireland’s position has long been that allowing asylum seekers the right to work would create a “pull factor”, whereby we would witness an increase in asylum applications due to the more favourable conditions. See below for relevant research studies on employment issues that counter this argument and advocate for access to the labour market as quickly as possible.
- Barriers to labour market for refugees and persons with leave to remain in Limerick (Doras Luimní, 2008)
- Counting the Cost: Barriers to Employment After Direct Provision (Irish Refugee Council, 2014)
- Transition: from Direct Provision to life in the Community (UCD, TCD, Irish Refugee Council, 2016)
- Evaluating the Right to Work (JRS, February 2015)
- “Quick labour market integration can unlock the potential economic benefits of the refugee inflow. It would also minimise the risk of social exclusion for the newcomers and maximise their net contribution to the public finances in the longer term.”
Read full report here: The Refugee Surge in Europe: Economic Challenges (International Monetary Fund, January 2016).
- European research on the integration of refugees into the labour market recommends that asylum seekers and refugees should integrated into the labour market as soon as possible, with targeted strategies and supports. The research suggests that it takes 15 to 20 years for refugees to reach the same employment rate as native workers.
Read full report and summary findings here: From Refugees to Workers. Mapping Labour-Market Integration Support Measures for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in EU Member States (Migration Policy Centre, 2016).
- “On EU average, it took between five and six years to integrate more than 50 % of asylum seekers and refugees into the workplace, even where countries allowed asylum seekers to work shortly after arrival in EU countries.”
Read full report here: Labour Market Integration of Refugees (EMPL, 2016).
- “Enterprising refugees create jobs. In Britain new-comers are twice as likely to start businesses than locals. In Australia, refugees are the most entrepreneurial migrants. Investing one euro in welcoming refugees can yield nearly two euros in economic benefits within five years.”
Read full report here: Refugees Work: A humanitarian investment that yields economic dividends (Philippe Legrain, May 2016).