Fundamental detail and urgency missing from government announcement on the right to work for people seeking asylum

Posted On: November 22, 2017

Media Statement, 21 November 2017

In response to the Government’s announcement Nick Henderson, CEO, said:

“Opting in to the 2013 Reception Conditions Directive is a positive step. However, the creation of another interdepartmental group, six months after the Supreme Court decision, shows a disregard for the existing delays in the Irish asylum system. Current estimates are that it is taking 20 months from application to initial decision. Many people have been waiting for long periods of time for a decision and should be allowed to work and put their skills to good use.”

“The Irish Refugee Council has consistently called for the right to work to be immediately available to people who have waited six months for an asylum decision and without restrictions to particular professions. The 2013 Directive allows Member States to introduce more favourable provisions than those contained in the actual Directive. Reflecting this, the majority of EU Member States allow people to work at six months or less. The European Commission’s 2016 draft to replace the 2013 Directive proposes that the right be given to people who have waited for six months or less.”

“Restricting the right to particular professions is also optional to Member States. In our view it is unnecessary and will undermine the essence of the right, making it illusory rather than effective. The Supreme Court itself stated in their decision that restricting the right to work to particular professions should only be permitted when there is a demonstrable need. This hasn’t been shown in this case whatsoever.” 

“Key detail is also missing from this decision: for example it is essential that people can access Child Benefit, the Affordable Childcare Scheme and the Family Income Supplement, each being an important safeguard for children of parents on low pay.”

“An accessible right to work provides an opportunity for people to move out of a position of State dependency. It also has positive implications for integration, mental well-being and future social cohesion. People in our asylum system generally do not come from welfare states. To quote a woman who attended Saturday’s demonstration calling for an end to Direct Provision: ‘Where we come from; you work for what you have’. People should be given a fair opportunity to contribute to Ireland.”

ENDS