Ireland is making changes to Employment Permits for Chefs, Nurses, and Construction workers
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation ('DBEI') has announced changes to the employment permits system for workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) following a full review.
Ireland operates a managed employment permit system through two occupation lists, namely the Critical Skills and Ineligible Lists of Occupations, which are reviewed twice in each year. This review considers labour market conditions and submissions from sectors and other stakeholders such as submissions from firms like mine on behalf of clients.
Summary of the Changes
The changes will come into effect from 1st January 2020 to address immediate labour shortages in key sectors such as hospitality, construction, health and road haulage.
All chef grades are now eligible for an employment permit and the occupation will no longer be subject to quotas.
All nurses can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit, which brings immediate family reunification, broad access to the Irish labour market for family members and a fast track to long term residency after 2 years.
Most professional occupations in the construction sector can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. Technician and construction support occupations, such as Foreman, Architectural Technician and Construction Safety Officer, can qualify for a General Employment Permit.
Other changes include an extension of the quota for HGV drivers by 200.
The occupation of Commis Chef (with two years’ experience) will be removed from the Ineligible Occupations List, meaning that all chef grades are now eligible.
Previously there was a cap of 610 permits for chefs and this will now be removed. In addition, the current cap of two chef permits per establishment is no longer applicable.
The DBEI will move most professional construction occupations in the sector to the Critical Skills Occupations List. Technician grades and construction support occupations, such as Architectural Technician and Construction Safety Officer will be removed from the Ineligible Occupations List.
Nurses from outside the EEA will be able to qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit – the most favourable type of work permit – which allows for immediate family reunification, a fast track to long term residency ('Stamp 4) after 2 years on the employment permit.
Currently non-EEA nurses fall into two categories, those with a nursing degree and those with a nursing diploma. As it stands, nurses with degree qualifications can access the Critical Skills Employment Permit, while those with a diploma can only access a General Employment Permit. This type of permit only allows for family reunification after 12 months and family members cannot automatically access the labour market.
Other changes to the system include an extension of the quota for HGV drivers by 200.
In addition, a Sectoral Working Group is being established to develop a sustainable labour strategy for the meat processing sector into the future. The Working Group will agree terms of reference before the end of March 2020 with the group established before the end of June 2020. As a result of the establishment of this Working Group, the quota of employment permits for meat processing operatives is being extended by 1000.
These changes are very welcome and align with the instructions I have been receiving from clients in recent months particularly in the hospitality industry. Agile adaptions such as this show the DBEI and Minister Humphreys are open to making changes where needed on the basis of evidence based review. I am helping a number of companies with permits in these areas and assessing individual entitlement to permits and these changes will make for a substantially better experience for employers and employees.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues further please get in touch.