This decision was made to bring Ireland into line with the standards across the EU member states and to improve the quality of lives of asylum seekers while they await decision on their protection application. This will in turn enhance availability of skills for the Irish labour market.

Following a Supreme Court judgement in May 2017, that found it unconstitutional to place a ban on the right of asylum seekers to seek employment, the Government availed of this opportunity to broaden the scope to opt-in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive 2013, which aligns Ireland’s position with EU norms and standards. The Directive lays down the standards for the reception of international protection applicants while their application is being determined.

Under this directive, qualified asylum seekers will be able to apply for employment in any sector with the exception of the Civil and Public Service, An Garda Síochána, and the Irish Defence Forces for a period of six months which is renewable until a decision is made on their application. This will reduce their dependency on the state, offer them protection and facilitate their effective integration into the Irish society.

The implication of this announcement is the likelihood of a positive impact on the labour market which has continued to tighten over the last few years. According to the 2018 CIPD HR practices in Ireland survey, 81% of organisations in Ireland have experienced skills shortage in the last two years.

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