13 March 2024
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Irish Government announces largest ever expansion to the employment permit system

To The Point
(3 min read)

Significant changes to the Irish employment permit system which have recently been announced represent a major change for business immigration in Ireland.  The changes will create opportunities in multiple sectors across business and society and we take a closer look at the changes and what they mean for employers.

On 20 December 2023, Neale Richmond TD, Minster of State for Business, Employment and Retail announced comprehensive changes to the Irish employment permits system.

The main changes include:

  • 11 roles added to the Critical Skills Occupations List.
  • 32 further roles made eligible for a General Employment Permit.
  • Salary for majority of General Employment Permit holders will rise from €30,000 to €34,000 from January 2024. It is estimated that this will increase to €39,000 by 2025.
  • Salary requirement for Critical Skills Employment Permit holders without a relevant degree will rise from €32,000 to €38,000 in January 2024. It is estimated that this will increase to €44,000 by 2025.
  • Salary requirements for Intra-Company Transfer and Contract for Services Employment Permit applications will increase from €40,000 to €46,000. It is estimated that these will increase further to €53,000 by 2025.

This is the largest ever expansion of the Irish employment permits system with 43 additional occupations becoming eligible for employment permits. From engineers, mechanics and electricians to meteorologists, butchers and bakers, these changes cross many sectors and will be of huge benefit to Irish business and society.

With just 4.9% of the population unemployed, Ireland is classified as being at full employment. This means that businesses are becoming more reliant on immigrant labour to fill skills gaps. In 2023, close to 31,000 permits were issued. Demand remains high this year with 6,874 permits already issued to workers from outside the EEA who are coming to Ireland to address the real skill shortages that are impacting businesses across the country.

It is hoped that these changes will benefit Irish business greatly. Electricians, electrical engineers and contractors together with skilled metal workers are now eligible for General Employment Permits and chemical and project engineers are eligible for Critical Skills Employment Permits. This will assist the Irish Government in building more homes and meeting its targets in terms of the implementation of additional infrastructure under the National Development Plan.

In addition, Ireland's healthcare system will benefit from the availability of employment permits for play therapists, family support workers in disability services and guide dog mobility instructors.

The salary thresholds have not changed in some time and had not kept pace with inflation or economic growth. Economic migration has had such an important impact on the Irish economy and society in general. Migrant workers bring much needed skills and experience to the Irish labour market and a cultural diversity that greatly benefits Irish society. To recognise this contribution and ensure that Ireland is offering good quality employment to these workers, the salary thresholds have been increased.

In addition to the above changes which are currently in place, the Employment Permits Bill 2022, which is currently moving through the various stages of the Irish legislative process will also bring about important changes once fully enacted. These changes include:

  • The introduction of a seasonal employment permit.
  • The revision of the labour market needs test for General Employment Permits to make it more relevant and efficient.
  • Changes to the 12-month rule which will mean that after completing an initial period of 9 months with their existing employer, an Irish employment permit holder will have the opportunity to change employment.
  • The introduction of a more streamlined process for the transfer of employment permits between employers to facilitate the movement of employees.

These are positive changes but it remains to be seen when exactly the new employment permits legislation will be enacted.

To the Point 

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