• Aaron Flynn

Minister launches substantial revision to Employment Permits in Ireland

Changes announced in construction, HGV drivers, horticulture, meat processing will be welcome to the many employers in Ireland who have been struggling with filling roles that were not eligible for employment permits.


The employment permits system is managed through the use of lists designating highly skilled and ineligible occupations. The lists are reviewed twice a year following submissions form industry and employers and reviewed in light of best practices to ensure the Irish labour market is protected while occupations in demand can be recruited. There have been substantial issues since COVID which required attention some of which are now dealt with in these changes. There remains the issue of low skilled general operative roles not qualifying for an employment permit but my clients inform me that they receive no or little applications for those roles and they tend to be filled from students and non-permanent work.

Summary of changes

  • Most construction sector jobs now eligible for a General Employment Permit

  • Quota to be removed for HGV driver work permits

  • 350 General Employment Permits for hospitality managers

  • Social Workers to be eligible for Critical Skills Employment Permit

  • Dispensing Opticians to be eligible for General Employment Permit

  • New General Employment Permit quotas for 1,000 Horticulture Operatives, 500 Meat Deboners, 1500 Meat Processing operatives and 100 Dairy Farm Assistants; with a strategic review of labour attraction and retention in the sector to follow

  • New General Employment Permit quota of 100 for Work Riders


The following roles now qualify for an employment permit:

  • Electricians

  • Masons

  • Roofers, Roof Tilers and Slaters

  • Plumbers and Heating & Ventilating Engineers

  • Carpenters & Joiners

  • Floorers and Wall Tilers

  • Painters and Decorators

  • Construction and Building Trades Supervisors

Please note that candidates still need suitable qualifications, skills and experience.

Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain

All HGV drivers recruited from outside the EEA will be eligible for an employment permit without the limitation of a quota.


A quota of 350 permits at management level for the hospitality sector will be allowed.

Agri-food and Agriculture Sectors

Additional permit quotas of 1,000 for Horticulture Operatives, 500 for Meat Deboners, 1,500 for Meat Processing Operatives and 100 for Dairy Farm Operatives is now announced.

Healthcare Sector

The role of Social Worker was recently made eligible for a General Permit but due to a lack of take up of the Permit it now qualifies for the Critical Skills Employment Permit. Presumably this is due to the unattractiveness of a General Permit for dependents and the lengthy process including labour market testing and processing times of over 100 days for employment permits bringing recruitment to an unmanageable 6 month process in some cases.

Dispensing Optician is also now eligible for a General Employment Permit.


The changes are certainly welcome and come at a time many of my clients are struggling to fill many roles some of which continue to be ineligible for employment permits. Those changes where quotas are announced will often be filled immediately by larger companies who will already be aware of these upcoming changes and will be prepared to submit applications now leaving smaller employers behind who will have to run labour market testing and find candidates and will often find these quotas used up by the time they have an application to submit.

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