40. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of asylum seekers that have been granted the right to work since June 2018; his views on the fact that the limitations imposed are stopping asylum seekers from obtaining work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49792/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, which I signed into effect from 30 June 2018, includes access to the labour market for qualified international protection applicants.
My Department provides confirmation in writing to any qualified applicant of their entitlement to access the labour market, for use when they apply for a job or become self employed. It is a free, easy to use, accessible service with a very short turn around from receipt of application to the sending out of the workplace permission. It is a very broad access to the workplace.
I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that since the introduction of the Regulations, 2,521 international protection applicants have applied for a permission to access the labour market of which 1,743 were granted a permission and 739 were ineligible mainly due to the fact that they had already received a first instance decision and were found not to have established their claim for international protection.
Qualified applicants are those who have not received a first instance decision within nine months, once the applicant meets that criteria there is no impediment in them getting the permission quickly and lawfully engaging in labour market activity.
A permission to access the labour market is valid for a period of six months which may be renewed if the applicant has not received a final decision on their application within this timeframe. As the Deputy will be aware, when an individual applies for international protection in Ireland they are given a temporary permission to remain in the State to allow their application to be processed. The permission is temporary pending the processing of their application during which an applicant has not established a right to remain in the State on a permanent basis. The processing of an application for international protection may result in a person being granted status, in which case they are entitled to access the labour market on the same basis as an Irish national.
It is also the case that the examination of an application for international protection can conclude that the applicant is not entitled to international protection and is not entitled to remain in the State and in that context it is appropriate that the labour market access permission is valid for a defined period of time.
The Regulations I have referred to provide access to both employment and self-employment in all sectors and categories of employment with the exception of the Civil and Public Service, An Garda Síochána and Defence Forces. The rationale for this is that it is a standard requirement of the Public Appointments Service when advertising a position in the Irish Public Service that eligibility to complete is open to citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA). Similar provisions apply in respect of Garda and Defence Force recruitment. This is the only limitation in relation to the labour market imposed by the regulations.
I am unaware of any other limitation that the Deputy may be referring to other than in order to ensure that applicants are not exposed to the risk of exploitation or discrimination within the labour market, employers are required to apply the 50-50 rule when employing eligible applicants. This rule required employers to show that at least 50% of their employees are EEA nationals. Applicants will therefore have a national comparator within the workplace to safeguard their rights. I do not see this as a limitation but as an essential workplace protection for the workers involved.