The Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail has announced significant changes to the employment permit system to combat substantial labour shortages in certain sectors of the Irish labour force. The changes will allow a large amount of non-EEA nationals to access the Irish labour market.

The changes are as follows:

  1. The majority of construction jobs are now eligible for an employment permit.
  2. No limit to the amount of permits issued to HGV drivers.
  3. A quota of 350 General Employment Permits is now available for hospitality managers.
  4. Social Workers are eligible to be granted a Critical Skills Employment Permit.
  5. Dispensing Opticians are eligible to be granted a General Employment Permit.
  6. Introduction of additional sector specific quotas to include 1,000 Horticulture Operatives, 500 Meat Deboners, 1,500 Meat Processing operatives and 100 Dairy Farm Assistants.
  7. A new General Employment Permit quota of 100 for Work Riders.

The changes to the rules for construction workers means that the following construction roles are now eligible to be granted an employment permit:

  1. Electricians
  2. Masons
  3. Roofers, Roof Tilers and Slaters
  4. Plumbers and Heating & Ventilating Engineers
  5. Carpenters & Joiners
  6. Floorers and Wall Tilers
  7. Painters and Decorators
  8. Construction and Building Trades Supervisors

A labour market needs test must be carried out for all of the above roles when applying for a General Employment Permit from the 27th of October 2021. This means that the role for which the General Employment Permit is being applied for must be advertised with the Department of Social Protection for 28 days, a national newspaper for three days and a local newspaper or employment website for three days before the employment permit application is submitted. Failure to do so will result in the application being refused.

Sinnott Solicitors analysis of the new changes to the employment permit system

The immigration team in our Dublin and Cork offices have received many queries from desperate employers in recent months seeking to apply for employment permits for many of the above positions so the changes will bring a welcome relief to countless employers who are desperately trying to fill positions. We submit however that the current processing times for employment permits is far to slow and additional resources must urgently be deployed to the Employment Permit Section to decrease processing times. As of todays date applications for employment permits where the employer holds Trusted Partner Status are taking 13 weeks whilst applications for Standard employers are taking 16 weeks. Where the employee who has been granted the employment permit is a visa required national, they will be required to apply for an entry visa after the permit has been granted which means the whole process could take up to six months or more based on current processing times. Given the chronic labour shortages being experienced by employers which in some cases is threatening the viability of their businesses, we submit that additional staff need to urgently be made available to Employment Permit Section to clear the outstanding backlog of applications and speed up all processing times.

With offices in Dublin and Cork, Sinnott Solicitors have a dedicated team of Immigration Solicitors and Consultants who are experts on all Irish immigration matters including Irish Employment Permits and Employment Visas. If you have any queries on the contents of this article, or require assistance with your employment permit application, do not hesitate to contact our offices today on or 014062862.