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04 Oct, 2021

Hiring Workers From Outside the EU

Current skills shortages in the agri-food sector are forcing employers to look further afield when hiring. When recruiting employees from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), UK or Switzerland, it is important to be aware that they must have permission to work in Ireland.

All non-EEA workers coming to work in Ireland for more than 90 days must have a Contract of Employment. In addition, unless they are exempt, or are recruited under the Atypical Working Scheme which allows non-EEA nationals to do certain short-term contract work, they must hold a valid Work Permit.

Work Permits

Work Permits are issued by the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment. There are 8 different types:

  • Critical Skills Employment Permit. A Critical Skills list, updated periodically, is available on the Department’s website. At the time of writing, the list includes various skills involved in the manufacture and development of food and beverages.

  • Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit

  • Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit

  • General Employment Permit (At the time of writing, certain agricultural and related trades, food preparation and hospitality trades are on the Department’s list of ineligible occupations for employment permits)

    • Contract for Services Employment Permit

  • Reactivation Employment Permit

  • Internship Employment Permit

  • Sport and Cultural Employment Permit

  • Exchange Agreement Employment Permit

If you are unsure which permit your prospective employee should apply for, contact ifac’s HR & Payroll Services Team for assistance.

Labour Market Needs Test

At least 28 days before your prospective employee applies for a Work Permit, you (the employer) will need to carry out a labour market needs test. The only exceptions to this rule are for:

  • occupations on the critical skills occupation list,

  • roles with a minimum annual remuneration of €64,000,

  • Roles created in response to Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland recommendations or where the position is for a carer of a person with exceptional medical needs.

The process of conducting a Labour Market Needs test involves advertising the proposed role:

  • through the Department of Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network for at least four weeks,

  • in a national newspaper for at least three days, and

  • in either a local newspaper or on a jobs website (separate from Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection/EURES websites) for three days.

The advertisement must include:

  • a description of the employment,

  • the name of the employer,

  • the minimum annual remuneration,

  • the location/s of employment, and

  • the hours of work.

You will need to check that the proposed role is not on the list of ineligible occupations for Employment Permits. You must also ensure that the salary on offer is greater than or equal to the minimum salary requirement and that your prospective employee has the relevant qualifications or skills to carry out the role.

Occasionally, the Department may have a quota for the number of permits that can be issued. For example, in 2020, there was a maximum quota of 101 General Employment Permits for dairy farm assistants however this did not affect general employment permit renewals.

What your prospective employee needs to do

Your prospective employee must apply for their Employment Permit at least 12 weeks before their proposed start date. This is also the case when they are renewing their visa. Failure to apply on time could mean that they are not able to start work until they receive their permit.

To submit an application electronically, the employee will need to provide their passport number, expiry date and name. They will receive a WorkID, allowing them to pause, save, and resume their application. Additional documentation that will be requested in the application process include a copy of the employee’s passport, employment offer and copies of payslips in the case of a renewal. A contract of employment signed by both the Employer and the Employee must be submitted for all applications.

The application fee is generally €1,000 for roles with a duration of more than six months or €500 if the duration is less than six months. There is no fee for applications submitted by non-EEA nationals who are married to (or in a civil partnership) with an EEA national.

When an Employment Permit application is submitted, it is assigned to a case officer who may request further information before making their decision. If additional information is requested, the employee has 28 days to respond.

Note that in most cases, the Department will not issue an Employment Permit unless at the time of application at least 50% of your employees are EEA nationals; however, there are exceptions to this rule.

For further information and advice, contact ifac’s HR & Payroll Services Team.