Review of Ireland’s Economic Migration Policy published

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, recently published a review of Ireland’s economic migration policy, which underpins the employment permits system. Earlier this year, in the context of a changing economy and labour market, Minister Humphreys asked her Department to carry out the first major review of this type since 2012.

Launching the review, Minister Humphreys said:
“I requested this review because our economy and labour market have changed fundamentally in recent years and I wanted to ensure that our policy remains fit for purpose.

An overarching set of Guiding Principles have been set down that provide a clear framework for the State’s employment permit system. This framework allows for decisions to be made and actions to be taken in a robust, coherent and consistent manner. Specifically, it provides for a system with the flexibilities required to ensure it remains supportive of the Irish labour market at all stages of the economic cycle.

In this regard, Minister Humphreys highlighted:
“It is crucial that we are cognisant of the fact that we still have 209,900 people on the Live Register in Ireland and 16.8 million unemployed in the EU28.”

Key recommendations deriving from the Review include:

  • Changes to the current twice-yearly review of the Highly Skilled and Ineligible Employment Lists – which deal with labour market access for non-EEA workers – to make the system more responsive in real-time. While the twice-yearly system will still operate, sectors experiencing severe labour shortages will be able to submit a business case for consideration via their line Department as they arise. A temporary scheme of this nature was piloted for the agri-food sector earlier this year.
  • Introduction of a Seasonal Employment Permit to facilitate certain categories of short-term workers.
  • A review of salary thresholds and other criteria for the various employment permit types to ensure a good fit with changing skills and labour market needs with minimal disruption to the labour market.
  • Changes to the current legislation to balance robust regulation with flexibility.
  • A modernisation and extension of the Labour Market Needs Test.
  • Adjusted requirements for balanced hiring practices (the’50:50 Rule’) to meet a broader range of enterprise needs.
  • A new system of Cross-Departmental oversight. This will be achieved by re-convening the high-level Inter-Departmental Group under revised Terms of Reference, to oversee the implementation of the Report’s recommendations, to monitor the ongoing alignment of the employment permits regime with the needs of the labour market and to report to the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on a regular basis.

For the full review see Review of Ireland’s Economic Migration Policy