Employment Permits Act 2024 signed into law

02 Jul 2024

On 25 June 2024, the Employment Permits Act 2024 was signed into law, bringing in new changes to Ireland’s employment permit system.

Based on recommendations of the Review of economic migration policy published in 2018, the Employment Permits Act 2024 aims to consolidate the law concerning employment permits and modernise the employment permit system, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.  The Act contains several key provisions which are outlined below.

Change of employer

Under the new legislation, workers on general or critical skills employment permits will be able to change employer after 9 months. This has been described as a vital protection for workers by some NGOs which they state will reduce the risk of exploitation of workers who are reliant on employment permits.

Seasonal Employment Permit

The new legislation will allow for the creation of a new type of employment permit for seasonal workers, (a seasonal employment permit), designed to facilitate non-EEA nationals’ employment in seasonally recurrent employment. This proposal came under scrutiny by both NGOs and as the Bill progressed through the houses of the Oireachtas due to potential risks to the protection of migrant workers. The legislation will set out a registration and annual approval process for employers who which to access the seasonal employment permit system and become approved seasonal employers. Breaches of conditions of permits or non-compliance will negatively impact any subsequent approval process.

A pilot scheme will run in 2025 and will be limited to specific employers.

Revision of the labour market needs test

The new legislation will remove the requirement of advertising the vacancy in a national newspaper – only requiring the advertisement to be published on two online platforms, one of which is EURES (JobsIreland.ie). The operational details of the labour market needs test will be set by regulations covering what must be contained in the advertisement, and how long the advertisement must be published for. Currently the advertising period is 28 days.

Provision of additional conditions for the granting of specific employment permits

Under the new legislation, the Minister will have the power to specify the conditions that are provided to general employment permit and seasonal employment permit holders. For example, the conditions can include accommodation, training or expenses to be provided to the permit holder.

Moving of operational detail to Regulations to allow for greater flexibility

One of the changes that will be made by the legislation is the moving of some areas of the employment permits system out of primary legislation into regulations.  The rationale behind this change, according to the Minister, is to facilitate a more agile employment permits system, without having to amend primary legislation continuously as the labour market evolves. An example of operational aspects of the system that have previously moved from primary legislation to regulations are the critical-skills occupations list, the ineligible list of occupations for employment permits, and the quotas for some occupations experiencing labour shortages.

EMN Ireland tracked developments related to this Bill in our Annual reports on migration and asylum in Ireland. Click here to read the developments in 2021 and here for 2022.

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