As advised by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, from the 1st of January 2020 a number of changes will be introduced to the salary thresholds for Critical Skills Employment Permits as well as the Labour Markets Needs Test for General Employment Permits and Contract for Services Employment Permits.

 

Changes to Critical Skills Employment Permit salary requirements

There are currently two different classes of Critical Skills Employment Permits:

  1. Occupations on the Critical Skills Occupation List – the salary must be over €30,000 per annum and the Applicant must possess a level 7 third level degree or higher.
  2. Occupations which are not on the Critical Skills Occupation List or the Ineligible Occupations list – the salary must be over €60,000 per annum. A third level degree is not required if the Applicant can prove that they have the necessary level of experience for the role.

From the 1st of January 2020 the following increases will be applicable to the salary thresholds:

  • €30,000 to €32,000 per annum for occupations on the Critical Skills Occupations List.
  • €60,000 to €64,000 for all other occupations that are eligible for an employment permit. 

Applications will be accepted pursuant to the current thresholds up to the 31st of December 2019, notwithstanding the fact that the applications will not be processed until 2020. Applications submitted from the 1st of January must follow the new salary requirements and if not, will be refused.

It is extremely important for employers to budget accordingly for the above changes, particularly in circumstances where they plan to hire a number of non-EEA nationals who require a Critical Skills Permit, it may result in substantial increase to their wages bill. There are no exceptions to the above changes and for anybody planning to apply from the 1st of January, it may be worth submitting the application before the 31st of December if seeking to avail of the lower remuneration thresholds.

 

Labour Market Needs Test for General Employment Permits and Contract for Services Employment Permits

Subject to some limited exceptions, applications for General Employment Permits and Contract for Services Employment Permits are subject to the Labour Markets Needs Test. 

This means that an employer must advertise the role with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network for at least 2 weeks,  in a national newspaper for at least 3 days and also in either a local newspaper or jobs website (separate to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection/EURES websites) for 3 days.

From the 1st of January 2020 employers will be required to advertise the position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network for at least 28 days (4 weeks). 

Applications submitted up to the 31st of December 2019 will be subject to the current 14-day advertisement requirement.

It is important for employers to be mindful of the above in circumstances where this will add an additional two weeks to the already lengthy application process. For anybody seeking to submit one of the above applications after the 1st of January, again we would suggest carrying out the Labour Market Needs Test and submitting the application before the 31st of December 2019 to avail of the current regulations. 

Thankfully there is no charge for advertising a job with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network so the additional advertising time will not be an extra financial cost to the employer. The national newspaper and local newspaper/employment website advertising requirements remain unchanged and employers must discharge the cost of these.

 

Further changes to the employment permit system in 2020

On the 1st of November 2019 the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation published the general scheme of the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill 2019.


This is an extremely welcomed development which immigration practitioners have been awaiting for some time.  The current employment permit system is quite outdated, inflexible and is made up of numerous acts and schedules which can extremely difficult to follow.  The new bill proposes to amalgamate the existing legislation whilst introducing new changes to the current system.

In announcing the changes, the Minister said that 

 

The consolidation of the existing legislation in this new Bill will enhance the statute’s accessibility and improve the transparency of our regulatory process. It will incorporate the recommendations of last year’s Review while retaining the core focus of a vacancy led employment permits system focussed on meeting the skills and labour needs in the State”.

 

Some of the proposed changes announced are as follows:

  • The introduction of a seasonal employment permit to fill short term labour shortages in areas such as horticulture, farming and tourism.
  • A significant revision to the Labour Market Needs Test.
  • The introduction of a Special Circumstances Employment Permit.
  • Streamlining the processes for Trusted Partner and renewal applications.
  • Improve the agility of the system by moving operational processes to Regulation for easier modification as circumstances require.
  • Allow for the refund of fees where the employment permit cannot be taken up in prescribed circumstances.
  • Simplifying the definition of remuneration and requirements around it as the current level of complexity has created difficulty for users of the employment permits system. 

 

At present the proposals are just that – proposals. The bill will go through the Dáil and Seanad as per the usual legislative process during which many changes may be made to the bill. Notwithstanding this it is a very welcomed development towards introducing a modern employment permit system to deal with an Irish labour market which has changed significantly in recent years. 

The Immigration Department of Sinnott Solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with all categories of Employment Permit Applications and related immigration permissions. If you have any queries on the employment permit process or any matters raised in this article, do not hesitate to contact our immigration team today on 0035314062862 or info@sinnott.ie.