DUBLIN: The Irish government has refused work permits to non-EU home carers, including those from India.
The decision was made due to a failure to “guarantee hours of work” and a “lack of travel and subsistence payments.” Junior Enterprise Minister Damien English clarified this in response to a parliamentary question. The move, which is expected to hurt the home care sector, comes at a time when the country is facing a severe shortage of home carers.
Employers in this sector are unable to guarantee fixed working hours or pay for travel and other living expenses, hence the authorities have decided not to give home care permits to non-EEA workers.
The decision was also based on the conclusion of the Inter-Departmental Group on Economic Migration that there is no labour shortage in the home care sector. The group’s report is expected to be received by the Department of Health soon, following which the junior health minister in charge of the sector, Mary Butler, will bring the matter to the attention of the government.
The Department of Enterprises has drawn up a list of work permits, according to which workers from outside the EU are employed in various sectors. As part of the review of these permits, the Department received submissions from industry representatives and other government departments. The submissions received stated that there is no labour shortage in the home care sector. It also revealed that the sector is having difficulty complying with labour rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) has criticised the government group’s claim that there is no shortage of carers in Ireland. HCCI, the trade body of the sector, stated that there is an “acute labour shortage” in the home care sector.
A spokesperson for HCCA said he did not understand why the government allowed non-EAA workers to continue working in nursing homes and hospitals but not in home care.
The HCCI said reforming social welfare laws to allow home care workers to work longer hours would help increase the sector’s capacity and reduce waiting lists.
Under social welfare rules, if the carer works three full days (22.5 hours) they will be entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance for the remaining two days, HCCI chief executive Joseph Musgrave said. If a carer works one hour a day for five days, he/she will not get this benefit.