Employment permits scheme

 

Sir, – I refer to correspondence from Andy Pollak (March 9th) regarding an employment permits scheme for international protection applicants. The Department of Justice and Equality has no “new rules”, has not introduced any “ban” or has not set any income thresholds or included or excluded any occupations in any employment list, for access to an employment permit as your writer asserts. The department has no remit in relation to the regulation of the employment market.

The Government received approval from the Oireachtas on January 23rd last to bring into effect in Ireland the EU’s recast receptions directive. This will ensure that “effective access to the labour force” is provided for qualified protection applicants. The legal process to “opt in” to the directive has begun and is due to be completed in June. That will provide the legal framework for the Minister for Justice to introduce a scheme. In the interim, the Minister has introduced an additional temporary scheme allowing for access to self-employment for protection applicants, as his remit allows, in line with the Supreme Court’s judgment. Qualified applicants may make an application at inis.gov.ie. Ireland is one of very few countries that allows such access.

From February 9th, the date of the Supreme Court’s ruling, protection applicants are being treated equally to all other third-country nationals who wish to work in Ireland and they can apply for an employment permit. No changes have been introduced to the existing employment permits regime, which has been in place for many years and is administered by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. All third-country nationals may make an application on the website epos.djei.ie.

A cross-Government implementation group will recommend new terms and conditions allowing, as stated by the Taoiseach in Dáil Éireann on January 23rd last, for “almost full access, which is what we committed to and that will be done in June”. The Taoiseach also noted that access to self-employment “is just the first step, and the second step will be much wider access to the labour market”.

In the interim, applicants can apply for existing employment permit schemes to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on the same terms as all other third-country nationals. – Yours, etc,

ANDREW PAYNE,

Press Officer,

Department of Justice

and Equality,

St Stephen’s Green,

Dublin 2.