The Department of Justice and Equality and the HSE announce changes to the Atypical Working Scheme for Locum Doctors


21 November, 2019


Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, are pleased to announce amendments to the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) applicable to Locum Doctors. These amendments are designed to support the recruitment and retention of non-EEA locum doctors to work within the Primary Care Services across the country, particularly within the General Practitioner Out of Hours Services.  


The amendments will make it possible for doctors to take up consecutive contracts and also to leave the State during their time working here.


Under them:




Both the Health Service Executive and the Immigration Service Delivery of the Department of Justice and Equality have worked together and continue to do in a partnership approach to ensure that any challenges identified and associated with the Atypical Working Scheme are reviewed and addressed where possible. 


Welcoming the development, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said:


"This is a positive outcome for the delivery of urgent healthcare. It is important that the providers of Out-of-Hours GP services have the necessary tools at their disposal to recruit the doctors needed to deliver those services, and this agreement helps to provide clarity around the obligations of non-EEA doctors without imposing undue restrictions on them."


Minister Flanagan added: 


“I am delighted that my officials in INIS have been able to provide the immigration mechanism which will enable the HSE to provide urgently needed medical care.”


Specific details and conditions around the amendments to the scheme and applicable dates are available on the Department of Justice and Equality website - 




Note to Editors../


The Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) allows doctors from non EEA countries to undertake locum work in the Primary Care (GP) sector.  Under the scheme doctors may be granted a ‘block’ 90-day permission for the duration of their 90-day contract.  Until now, exit from and re-entry into the State was not permitted during this 90-day period, except in exceptional circumstances. 


Up to now, the terms of the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) also provided that at least one month must elapse from the expiry date of the 90 day permission before a new application could be made. The rational for this, which applies to all such permissions, is rooted in the principle that an atypical permission is not intended to substitute for, or replace, full time labour (either sourced within Ireland or the EU or through the Non EEA Work Permit regime). Thus a person granted such permission cannot automatically roll it over.  These conditions have applied to permissions granted under the Scheme since its inception.