Press Centre

Government Reverses Changes on Work Permits

PRESS RELEASE: 14 October 2009

The government has officially reversed the changes made in June to the work permits system regarding non-European Economic Area (EEA) workers who are made redundant.  The change in policy made by the Employment Permits Section of Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on Monday, removes the labour market needs test for current and future work permit holders who have been made redundant.  The basis for this change was agreed in the recently negotiated programme for government.

In May, the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) launched a sustained campaign opposing the changes to the work permits system made by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, TD.  Under those changes, migrant workers on permits who were made redundant were prohibited from taking up a new job unless it was publicly advertised for two months i.e. a Labour Market Needs Test was undertaken.  The reversal implemented this week removes this requirement, reverting back to the policy as it operated prior to the June changes.

This most recent change builds upon government announcements in late August doubling the length of time, from three to six months that a non-EEA migrant worker has to seek alternative employment.  In addition, non-EEA migrant workers made redundant who have lived and worked in Ireland for five years under the work permits system are now granted a new permission to live and work without the need to apply for another work permit.

“This reversal will give non-EEA migrant workers who lose their jobs a fairer chance to get back to work to support themselves and their families,” remarked Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director of the MRCI.  “The changes made back in June were wrong, but the Tánaiste persisted with a cruel and flawed policy.   While this reversal is positive, it is clear that the immigration and work permits system are poorly-designed and managed.  Real people and their families suffer as a result.  The government needs to listen to the voice of migrant workers’ if it is serious about building a fair and equitable system.”