Ministers Flanagan and Stanton observe first anniversary of labour market access for asylum seekers



30 June 2019


Today, 30 June, marks the first anniversary since the introduction of labour market access for eligible international protection applicants, also known as asylum seekers. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, and his colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, have noted the positive uptake of the permission and the benefits that labour market access has brought to the everyday lives of applicants and their families.


Minister Flanagan said:


A year ago today, I signed the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, which, inter-alia, introduced for the first time in the State, the possibility for asylum seekers to enter employment, to become self-employed, to further their education and ultimately to become more economically independent.


Since then, I have granted over 2,700 labour market access permissions including more than 2,000 permissions to residents in Direct Provision accommodation. I expect this figure to increase as more applicants reach the 9 month mark under the Regulations whereby they become eligible to apply”.


Highlighting the positive impact that access to the labour market has had, in particular, for residents in accommodation centres, Minister Stanton said:


We know that applicants want to work and to contribute to the society that is providing them with safety and shelter while we examine their international protection applications. Giving eligible applicants an opportunity to work, to further their education or simply to be able to provide for their family is important for their integration and well-being. Indeed, the Ombudsman in his Commentary on Direct Provision published in March noted the generally more positive environment at most of the centres visited by his staff and the positive changes that the access to the labour market has brought to the lives of residents.


Labour market access is one of a series of reforming measures we have introduced in recent years to improve our reception system for applicants. Another key measure is the introduction of independent living, which provides cooking facilities and an onsite food hall where residents can obtain food and toiletries through a cashless, points-based system. Over half of all residents now have access to cooking facilities and my aim is to have all residents in commercial centres benefitting from independent living by the middle of next year”.


Applicants who are eligible for a labour market access permission can access all sectors of employment and occupations with the exception of those that require a citizenship or long-term residence requirement, such as the Civil and Public Sector, An Garda Síochána and the Irish Defence Forces.


Acknowledging the clear Government policy in relation to this, Minister Flanagan said:


“When deciding on the appropriate level of labour market access to provide, my Government colleagues and I were firmly of the view that this should be as broad and as generous as possible to provide real opportunities for people to find work or to engage in entrepreneurial activity. More than 1,200 employers and self-employed applicants have formally confirmed to my Department that they are in the labour market because of this permission, which validates the effectiveness of the access.  Applicants are employed across a variety of sectors including hospitality, retail, ICT, HR, engineering and healthcare”.


More information on the labour market access permission, eligibility requirements and the application form are available on the INIS website (




Notes for Editors:



·         International protection applicants can apply for a labour market access permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality nine months from the date when their protection application was lodged, if they have yet to receive a first instance recommendation from the International Protection Office, and if they have cooperated with the process.


Labour Market Access  Applications


In Direct Provision














*Awaiting documentation or has not yet reached the 9 month mark to be granted a permission. Permission may subsequently be granted in these cases.


Labour Market Access Applications


In Direct Provision












·         Based on the returned declaration forms received to date, 1,229 employers/applicants have indicated they have commenced employment or self-employment.  As the employer or applicant has 21 days from the time they take up employment or self-employment to return the declaration form, there is likely to be a time lag between the actual date of commencement of employment and the Department being notified. Therefore this will not be reflected in the figures quoted.