Date Released: 24 April 2014
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has welcomed the publication of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Bill 2014 by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton.
The Bill addresses problems MRCI has been highlighting since 2006. In a vital move by the Minister, it ensures access to legal redress for undocumented workers, so they can take a case in the civil courts against exploitative employers for back wages and compensation. The loophole was exposed by 2012 High Court judgment, which overturned a Labour Court decision to award Mohammed Younis over €92,000 in back pay.
MRCI Director Edel McGinley stated “The Mohammed Younis case was a terrible miscarriage of justice – Irish law essentially rewarded his employer for deliberately failing to get a work permit and trapping Mr Younis in severe exploitation for seven years. For Mr Younis and for all undocumented workers exploited by unscrupulous employers in Ireland, this Bill is a huge step towards justice.”
McGinley continued, “This Bill also makes special provisions for work permits for care workers. Individuals and families across Ireland depend on care workers, and this Bill acknowledges the growing demand. We must ensure that care is valued; rights and protections for care workers are crucial.”
Among other provisions, the Bill will also allow undocumented workers who previously held a work permit and became undocumented through no fault of their own – due to exploitation, deception, fraud or lack of knowledge – to get a work permit again. McGinley said, “MRCI has been working to combat exploitation in the work permit system for years. Every day, we see the toll that being undocumented takes on workers across Ireland.”
“Much more needs to be done, and we will continue to work for a solution for all undocumented people – including children – in Ireland, but today we welcome Minister Bruton’s commitment to tackling exploitation in Ireland,” concluded McGinley.