Report highlights illegal employment

Students working outside permitted hours and undocumented migrants are more likely to be involved in illegal employment than any other sector, according to a report looking at non-EU nationals and the labour market.

The report says areas at high risk of illegal employment include the catering sector, such as takeaway, fast-food, and ethnic restaurants; and workers in the private home such as childcare workers, including those known as au pairs, and elderly carers.

It says while a number of breaches of the Employment Permits Acts were detected last year by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the illegal work of non-EU nationals could also constitute a breach of immigration law, but prosecutions under the Immigration Act for illegal employment are “uncommon”.

Last year the WRC performed 4,830 inspections and detected 404 possible breaches of the Employment Permits Acts.

The Economic and Social Research Institute, which published the report, said it is the first comprehensive study on illegal employment concerning both regularly and irregularly staying non-EU nationals in Ireland.

Entitled Illegal Employment of Non-EU Nations and published today, it was written by Samantha Arnold, Susan Whelan, and Emma Quinn.

It takes information from a number of sources and interviews conducted with stakeholders, including from a 2016 Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland survey of undocumented migrants which found that five nationalities accounted for 84% of respondents: Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian, and Pakistani.

Also last year there were 1,520 entries made in the centre’s database. Of those, 553 people indicated they were undocumented.

The report states: “The research highlights that non-EU nationals who engage in illegal work, in particular those who are undocumented, are often vulnerable to abuse of employment rights as well as fundamental or human rights.”

It argues that despite the introduction of measures to enable students to maintain legal residence, research shows that the tighter requirements did lead to individuals falling into irregularity.


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