In Ireland, Supreme Court is considering right to work of asylum seekers

As Human Rights Watch formulated it “By not allowing asylum seekers to work, Ireland is an outlier among EU member states”.  

I reproduce hereafter an article from The Irish Times dated January 2017 on the denial of the right to work of asylum seekers in direct provision and provide my legal analysis from an international and European perspective.

 We would like in this post to express our support to the Irish campaigners who have long been campaigning for the removal of the governmental ban on the right to work of asylum seekers. The Irish governmental prohibition is  based on old- dated arguments that contradicts international human rights standards, human dignity, refugee law and is not supported by economical arguments. Let's hope that the Irish Supreme Court will be able to adopt a solution more in line with human dignity. 


Young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds lack the social capital to access labour market

A recent paper from the Australian Center for Cultural Youth argues that a crucial link (social capital) is missing to allow for the access of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to the labour market.

This paper aims to develop a deeper understanding of the way in which young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds experience social capital in relation to work transitions in Australia, particularly for those who are tertiary educated. This is with the intention of exploring how best to support the breadth and quality of young people’s networks to facilitate the transition to meaningful work. Access to bridging capital for the purposes of employment is an issue of equity – an essential link that is often missing for young people with a refugee or migrant experience.

Legal work rights for refugees in Malaysia is a first positive step forward

Legal work rights for refugees in Malaysia is a positive step forward but they must be offered adequate protections for the scheme to succeed long-term writes Gerhard Hoffstaedter on the Asia & the Pacific policy society blog.

Several news outlets have reported on a pilot scheme to provide work rights to 300 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. This scheme is a cooperation between the Malaysian government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). It has been long in the making and refugee advocates, as well as the UNHCR, have been arguing for more regularisation of refugees in Malaysia for a long time.

The announcement comes at a time of escalating violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar and reports of ethnic cleansing. The Malaysian government’s approach to the plight of the Rohingya has long been guided by the ASEAN policy of non-interference. However, last week the government demanded action from Myanmar in a public statement and summoned the Myanmar ambassador to convey their message.
Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention or protocol and therefore does not recognise refugees legally. The UNHCR is allowed to register refugees on the understanding that the majority are to be resettled to safe third countries, such as the US, Australia, Canada and European countries. Currently, over 150,000 refugees are registered by the UNHCR with many more remaining unregistered and very vulnerable.

The UNHCR does not have sufficient means to look after so many refugees, which necessitates their employment in often dirty, dangerous and demeaning occupations. Without outside help, refugees turn to the large Malaysian shadow economy, where they find badly-paid work, are often cheated out of their wages, or worse. When accidents happen, entire families can become destitute overnight as few have health insurance or access to workers’ compensation schemes.

How are refugees faring on the labour market in Europe?

The OECD & European Commission recently released a working paper based on a 2014 Labour Force Survey. It answers 2 simple questions: who are the migrants who come for humanitarian reasons to Europe and how are they doing on the labour market, education, language and culture.Those questions have particular relevance in the current situation, but are notoriously hard to answer, as refugees gradually ‘disappear’ in migration and integration statistics when gradually settling in. This first evaluation provides key findings which can inform current policy debates.

Refugees represent one of the most vulnerable groups of migrants on the labour market. With an overall average employment rate of 56%, it takes refugees up to 20 years to have a similar employment rate as the native-born. Family migrants achieve comparable results, while persons arriving for employment or study purposes reach this level at the latest after 9 years.


Letting asylum seekers work would save UK government £233.5 million per year

The governement could slash as much as 25% off the £233.5 million annual bill for asylum support payments if asylum seekers and those refused asylum who cannot go home were allowed to work in the UK, says a new report from a Warwick University research project. The report’s authors say the European standard is to grant access to the job market if individuals have been waiting for 6 months or more for a decision on their claim.Forcing people to live in poverty is not a deterrent for those considering coming to the UK, nor does it encourage those already here to leave, the report continues.


New study on Refugees' Right to Work and Access to Labor Markets

Refugees' Right to Work and Access to Labor Markets
new study produced under the KNOMAD's Thematic Working Group on Migration and Development finds a generally restrictive approach to refugees’ right to work across 20 countries that have taken in 70 per cent of the world’s refugees. Most are reluctant to ease these restrictions too.

The majority of refugees work in the informal sector, but under much less satisfactory and more exploitative conditions compared with nationals. Informal labour markets are also constrained in countries with fragile economies which often host large numbers of refugees, says the study.
The research concludes that:
-more national and international coordination is required,
-multiple actors should share in the responsibility to deliver decent work,
-labour market policies as well as training and education should be harnessed to support sustainable livelihoods,
-refugee social capital should be more effectively engaged.