The Employment Permits Bill 2022 was published on 4 October 2022. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has stated that the purpose of the legislation is to make the system more responsive to Ireland’s evolving labour market. We review the key aspects of the new legislation.
Despite COVID-19 and travel restrictions, there has been a steady rise in demand for employment permits in Ireland, with organisations increasingly struggling to hire suitably skilled people within the EU.
This legislation will consolidate the previous Employment Permits Acts (2003, 2006 and 2014) into a single piece of legislation thereby making the law easier to navigate for those making applications. Operational details will now be found in regulations and this will facilitate the making of changes with ease as opposed to having to amend the legislation contentiously as recruitment evolves.
New type of permits
The Bill introduces two new types of permits.
Firstly, section 9(2)(e) provides that an employment permit can be granted for a foreign national who is employed outside the State by a contractor or a subcontractor to perform duties in Ireland that arise out of a contract service agreement. This will be known as a contract for service employment permit. Previously only direct employees could work in Ireland.
Secondly, the Bill creates a new type of permit for seasonal workers, known as a ‘seasonal employment permit.’ This type of permit is to facilitate foreign nationals employed in “seasonally recurrent employment” which is to be specified in regulations set out under section 4 of the Bill. Seasonally recurrent employment is defined in the Bill as ‘employment that relates to a certain time of the year or seasonal conditions.’ These types of employment permits will be made by reference to certain economic sectors to which they relate.
Additional conditions to be attached to the granting of employment permits
Section 40(10) of the Bill stipulates that the Minister has the power to specify conditions related to the grant of employment. These include accommodation, training or expenses, which should be provided to a foreign national to whom an employment permit is granted. Interestingly, section 40(10) also specifies that the Minister can make regulations and measures to be taken by the employer of the foreign national to whom a permit is granted to:
- Increase skills, knowledge, qualifications, or experience of employees (other than the foreign national) in respect of the employment including the employment of new trainee or apprentices in that employment, or
- To otherwise reduce reliance on the employment of foreign nationals including by way of technical changes to work processes.
It is significant that the conditions can relate to training and provision for employees other than those to whom the employment permits relate.
This is a highly significant draft piece of legislation, which when enacted will have the effect of clarifying and consolidating the law in relation to the granting of employment permits in Ireland. The draft legislation is significant in that it moves operational details to regulations to be made under the Act, allowing for ease of update as recruitment practices evolve. It is expected that the Bill will become law early in 2023.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.