Press Centre

MRCI Calls on Tánaiste to Abandon Proposed Changes to Employment Permits System

PRESS RELEASE: 15 April 2009

Today the Tánaiste announced changes to the employment permit system in an apparent move to restrict the number of Employment Permits issued to non-EU workers.  The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) believes these proposed changes are entirely unnecessary, will create confusion and jeopardise workers rights.

Migrant workers from outside the EU currently go through a rigorous labour market test and pay high fees to qualify for employment inIreland. The Department’s proposed changes would increase permit fees, double the labour market tests, introduce a test on Work Permit renewals and impose new restrictions on spouses and dependents.

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment statistics show massive drops in the issuing of Employment Permits as shown below.

  • In 2008 there were just 13,000 permits issued (new & renewals), down by almost 50% from 2007.
  • In February of this year there were only 737 (new & renewal) permits issued.  At that rate there could be less than 8,000 permits issued for 2009 (new & renewals).
  • Overall the number with permits is an extremely small percentage of the labour force (estimated 1.5%), and a small percentage of all migrant workers as a whole.

"The MRCI does not oppose restricting the number of Employment Permits issued but there is no evidence to suggest that these changes are necessary,” said Bill Abom, Deputy Director of the MRCI. “The approach taken by the Tánaiste creates the perception that migrants with Employment Permits have somehow created the problems we are currently experiencing.  These drastic changes are a distraction from the truth and one can only interpret this as the Tánaiste trying to score some cheap political points against a small number of migrant workers. The proposals should be abandoned.”