Human Rights and Equality Commission welcomes scheme to grant access to the labour market for applicants for international protection

Implementation will be key to determining effective access

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has today welcomed the announcement of a new scheme to allow for access to the labour market by applicants for international protection.

The Commission, as part of its strategic litigation programme, acted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the Supreme Court case of NHV v The Minister for Justice and Equality, which found that the indefinite ban asylum seekers’ right to work was unconstitutional.  In that advisory role, the Commission submitted that the right to work guaranteed in Article 40.3.1 of the Irish Constitution extended to people living in Ireland who were applicants for international protection.

The Commission is of the view that granting effective access to the labour market for applicants for international protection is necessary to bring Ireland into compliance with its international human rights obligations, and to promote the positive integration of refugees into Irish society.

The Commission welcomes the opening of almost all sectors of employment to eligible applicants for international protection, which is key to providing meaningful opportunities to take up work around the country.  It also welcomes the waiving of any fee, and the removal of any minimum salary threshold, when applying for permission to access the labour market.  The new scheme also provides for access to vocational training for asylum seekers, which has been another key recommendation of the Commission.  These measures go a long way to reducing barriers to meaningful access to the labour market for applicants for international protection.

The proposed initiative by the Department of Justice and Equality to launch a public awareness campaign to make people in the asylum system, as well as employers, trade unions and civil society aware of the new scheme is also welcome.  Any such information campaign should restate that applicants accessing the labour market under this scheme enjoy the same anti-discrimination protections provided by our employment and equality law as any citizen.

The Commission notes that the short duration of the permit for applicants for international protection – just six months – could be a disincentive for employers when considering recruiting new staff.  Finally, while the principle of making a contribution towards accommodation costs for those in employment is in line with the provisions of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, it is important that any such requirements are not so onerous as to act as a disincentive to take up paid work.  The Commission is of the view that access to the labour market must be effective in practice, and will be keeping the implementation of the labour market access scheme under review.

Speaking today, Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“Ensuring a right to work while seeking asylum is critical to overcoming both direct and indirect discrimination, in overcoming barriers to integration, in ensuring equality in access to employment and effective enjoyment of the human right to work, and equal enjoyment of rights in the workplace.  Most of all, the freedom to work to support oneself and one’s family is essential to human dignity.

This new scheme to provide for access to the labour market for applicants for international protection is a very welcome development, and marks significant progress on the interim scheme which followed the Supreme Court ruling.  It is important that applicants for international protection have effective access to employment.  The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will be keeping the implementation of the labour market access scheme under review to ensure that the right to access work is a right in practice, as well as one in principle.”

 

ENDS/

 

For further information, please contact:

Jean O’Mahony, Head of Strategic Engagement

01 8589601 / 087 6214675

jomahony@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

 

Notes to editor:

Policy statement on effective access to the labour market for asylum seekers

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission produced a policy statement on how effective access to the labour market for asylum seekers could be achieved in March of this year, and appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality on the same subject on the 9th of May.  The policy statement can be accessed here: https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2018/05/Access-to-the-labour-market-for-applicants-for-international-protection.pdf

 

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

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