The Supreme Court ruling on the right to work for people in the asylum process: what next?

Posted On: 1 June 2017

On 30 May the Supreme Court ruled that in circumstances where there is no time limit on how long the asylum procedure will take, the complete prohibition on allowing asylum seekers to work is unconstitutional.

I am an asylum seeker in Ireland. Can I now seek employment?

Sadly, no. This judgment is a welcome first step but it does not mean that people in the asylum process can work immediately. The government must now take steps to change the law to reflect the Supreme Court decision. The Court has left it up to the government and the parliament as to what these steps should consist of. It is hard to say what will happen next.


In other European countries, the law requires that the right to work must be granted if a person has been waiting for a decision for more than 9 months and that the delay is not due to the actions of the applicant.


Greece and Sweden allow people in the asylum procedure to work from the moment an application is made. Austria and Germany allow people to work in certain professions if they have waited for 3 months.

What happens next?

The Court order has been postponed for six months which provides time to the government to address the situation. It is important that people write to their TDs and Ministers advocating for access to the labour market (find out who your local TDs are here).


The Irish Refugee Council will continue to advocate for a removal of the prohibition on employment and will be making a detailed submission to government.

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