Asylum seekers to be able to seek work under new system

All jobs but Garda, Defence and Civil Service will be open to those in direct provision

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan secured Cabinet approval on Tuesday to lift restrictions on asylum seekers working, including the abolishment of the €1,000 payment for an employment permit. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan secured Cabinet approval on Tuesday to lift restrictions on asylum seekers working, including the abolishment of the €1,000 payment for an employment permit. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Asylum seekers will be able to seek any form of employment except with An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces or the Civil Service, under new plans to be announced by the Government.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan secured Cabinet approval on Tuesday to lift the restrictions placed on asylum seekers working, including the abolishment of the €1,000 payment for an employment permit.

The proposals, which will be announced on Wednesday by Mr Flanagan and Minister of State David Staunton, come a year after the Supreme Court found the ban on asylum seekers working in this country was unconstitutional.

According to the current rules, asylum seekers must secure a job that pays a starting salary of at least €30,000 per year, and may not work in any of 60 different sectors, including in hospitality, food, healthcare, social work, childcare, marketing, administration, textiles, printing, housekeeping and construction.

It is understood Mr Flanagan will relax this system and will allow for broad access to occupations and easier access to work permits. The Minister for Justice will also be in charge of granting such permits.

Permanency issues

A Government source said the decision to deny access to the Garda, the Defence Forces and the Civil Service was due to the permanency of the positions.

“It is not clear whether all asylum seekers will become permanent residents and therefore until that is clear, they will not be in a position to work in those three sectors. However, they will be able to work elsewhere.”

Many have been in the system awaiting a decision on their future for years

Access to social welfare payments will also be permitted to those who find employment. Currently, asylum seekers living in direct provision have a weekly allowance of €21.60 and can buy food using a recently introduced points system.

Figures show 5,096 people were living in direct provision in December 2017.

Many have been in the system awaiting a decision on their future for years.

The old scheme, which will remain in force until a full work-permit system is drawn up for asylum seekers, has been strongly criticised by advocates. Not one work permit has been issued since the ban was lifted.

Last year, the Supreme Court heard a case from a Burmese man who had spent eight years in direct provision before getting refugee status. He won his appeal over laws preventing him working in Ireland before his status was decided.