I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 to 203, inclusive, together.
Ireland operates a managed employment permits system which maximises the benefits of economic migration while minimising the risk of disrupting Ireland’s labour market. Current Government policy is to issue employment permits for the employment of non-EEA nationals for specific vacancies and where the positions on offer cannot be reasonably filled from within Ireland, Switzerland and the EEA.
Meetings took place at official level between my Department and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. I recently published the Interdepartmental Group (IDG) Report on the Review of Economic Migration Policy in which the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection played an active role. Membership of the IDG was drawn from senior officials of key Government Departments, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who played a key role in reviewing all available evidence and data when considering the introduction of the pilot scheme to address labour shortages in the agri-food sector. In addition, my officials delivered a presentation on the pilot scheme at a stakeholder event hosted by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
During the review, I requested that the emerging labour shortages being experienced in the agri-sector be prioritised. As a result, a total of 750 employment permits for meat processing operatives have been made available under the pilot scheme. The pilot scheme is open to all employers working in the sector and workers can be drawn from almost all non-EEA countries. A list of all employers who have been provided with employment permits, and the nationalities of non-EEA nationals who have been issued permits, is available on the Employment Permits section of my Department's website.
The Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994, provides that an employer must issue its employees with a written statement of terms and conditions relating to their employment within two months of commencing employment. It also provides that an employer must notify the employee of any changes in the particulars as given in the statement.
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has no record of any complaints received to date from employees involved in the pilot scheme stating that they have not received the information outlined in section 3(1) of the Act mentioned above. It is also worth noting that all applications for an employment permit must include a copy of the contract of employment signed by the employer and employee.