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Work Permits

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 25 May 2022

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Questions (155, 168)

Holly Cairns

Question:

155. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice if he will permit non-EEA persons to work on any size fishing vessel under the atypical work permit scheme. [26929/22]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

168. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice if she will provide a path to visa stamp 4 and full labour market access for all non-EEA fishers, both documented and undocumented. [26932/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 155 and 168 together.

The Atypical Working Scheme was established as a cross Departmental response to address the issue of non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet, who are not currently eligible for an employment permit under the regime operated by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The Scheme provided, for the first time, a framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish fishing fleet and was welcomed as a solution to the risk of exploitation and to guarantee employment rights and protections to non-EEA fishers availing of the Scheme.

The Scheme requires that the crew member be provided with a copy of their contract of employment in both English and in their native language by their employer.

The Scheme applies only to non-EEA fishers who seek permission to work in the State on licensed and registered fishing vessels in the Polyvalent, Beamer and specific segments of the Irish Fishing Fleet for vessels more than 15 metres in length. This condition is based on advice that vessels of smaller size would not be in a position to meet national and EU labour market protection requirements with respect to the proportion of employees employed by any person or organisation who must be sourced from either within the State or within the EEA.

AWS permission holders can make a request to change to a different employer licensed under the Scheme at any time during their permission. They do not need to leave the State in order to do this.

A number of Departments are involved in the Scheme and it is monitored by an Oversight Committee, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, with members from relevant Departments and State Agencies. 

A review of the Atypical Working Scheme for non-EEA fishers was recently carried out by officials from my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

As part of the review, stakeholders involved, or with an interest in, the scheme, including relevant Government Departments and agencies, employer groups, solicitors representing applicants, the International Transport Workers Federation and others were invited to make submissions by 2 February 2022.

The review group has recently concluded its work and I intend, together with ministerial colleagues in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and the Department of Agriculture, to make proposals to Government shortly.

In the meantime, the Oversight Committee continues to oversee the scheme as currently structured.

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