24 Nov 2021, 12.01

The Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment has today, Wednesday November 24, published its report into the General Scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019.

Launching the report, Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Maurice Quinlivan said: “The pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Employment Permits Bill has probably been the most challenging one undertaken by the Joint Committee to date.”

“The Committee met with a range of stakeholders regarding the Bill, which proposes to update the employment permits system.

The Bill aims to increase the flexibility and effectiveness of the employment permits system to respond to changes in employment practices and labour supply and demand. It aims to increase the agility and effectiveness of the employment permit system, while retaining the policy focus of supporting the economy and the labour market through evidence-based decision making.

“While the Bill aims to make the employment permit system more responsive and flexible to the needs of the labour market, the Committee has concerns about the manner in which the employment permit system operates in practice. The Committee received evidence that, in some cases, the employment rights of workers under the permit system - including their level of pay and their conditions of employment - are not observed or enforced. In addition, such workers experience uncertainty in relation their future prospects and in relation to the position of their families.”

The report has made 8 recommendations, the principal ones of which are –

·        that instead of introducing the Seasonal Employment Permit, the General Employment Permit should be adapted to meet the need for seasonal employment, and workers’ rights must not be undermined.

·        the proposed Special Circumstance Employment Permit should only be issued following certification by a relevant enterprise agency that the circumstances set out in law are met

·        that proposals to amend operational details of the permit system by way of regulations would lead to a lack of transparency and make scrutiny by the Committee and others more difficult

·        that holders of General Employment Permits should be given improved rights in relation to family reunion and the access of family members to the labour market

·        that the protection and enhancement of the position of employees should be at the centre of proposals to amend the employment permit system.

Deputy Quinlivan thanked the key stakeholders who, in making submissions in relation to the proposals, assisted the Committee in its deliberations. He said their input was critical to the development of a report into a complex issue.

Read the report and its recommendations in full on the Oireachtas website here. 

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