• Aaron Flynn

Want a say on employment permits in Ireland? Irish authorities commence public consultation today.

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation invites submissions on the General Scheme of an Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill, with a closing date of 17 January 2020.

A Review of Economic Migration Policy undertaken in 2018 concluded that, while the employment permits system provides a strong framework and adds to the skills and labour needs in the State, the current legislation is very inflexible in practice. In order to increase agility and responsiveness of the system and to ensure it is capable of adapting to rapid changes in the needs of the labour market this Review recommended that new legislation be initiated and the Government approved the General Scheme consolidating and amending previous employment Permits legislation. 

The consolidating of the the existing legislation is very welcome as the law presently sits across numerous Acts and Statutory Instruments making an assessment of the law at times a challenge. Under the new Act a seasonal employment permit will be introduced and there will be an extensive revision of the labour market needs test to make it more relevant and efficient. Welcome also is the introduction for a scheme to deal with occasional exceptional circumstances where an employment permit may be granted despite not meeting all of the criteria for the General Employment Permit.

There will also be some housekeeping changes – clarifications of particular provisions, moving of operational criteria to Regulations, and the streamlining of a number of requirements to make the grant process more efficient. The authorities will seek to balance this streamlining with additional conditions for grant of an employment permit, such as training or accommodation support for migrant workers in some circumstances, or making innovation or upskilling a condition of grant, where this may decrease future reliance on economic migration.

The 6-week process of public consultation on the Bill commences today.

Submissions are invited from stakeholders and interested parties and this process will inform the further development of the draft legislation. Following completion of the public consultation on 17th January 2020, detailed drafting of the Bill will commence and the Minister hopes to formally publish the legislation in early summer 2020. The Department will fully assess all responses to the present consultation before finalising the draft legislation for submission to Government. These responses will also be an important input into the regulatory impact analysis being prepared on the proposed Bill. 

Many of my clients struggle at times to fit a job requirement within this existing framework and cannot find candidates to fill job roles due to the restrictive nature of the law. I am preparing a response to send to the Minister and will collate all of the issues my clients have faced with the existing system. If you have any comments on the existing framework or faced previous challenges please get in contact and I will add these to my submission if you wish.

This is a very positive consultative process and allows us stakeholders to put our views forward. This is our opportunity to request changes we believe should be made.

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