Strong demand from dairy sector for non-EU work permits

Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Business Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Just one work permit remains from the 50 issued to the dairy sector last year for non-EU workers.

In May 2018, a pilot scheme of employment permit quotas for dairy farm assistants, horticulture workers and meat processing operatives was put in place.

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It included a new minimum payment threshold of €22,000 and obligations on employee welfare, accommodation and language training.

There has also been a strong take-up of the permits by meat processors with 1,339 permits issued from a 1,500 allocation.

However, just 91 permits have been issued from the quota of 500 for the horticulture sector.

he Minister said these quotas were provided following a comprehensive review of data and evidence available and the submission of a business case by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on behalf of the sector. 

The quotas are specific to each occupation mentioned and are not transferable to any other occupation.

Calls have been made for permits to be issued to workers on pig farms. However, the role of Pig Farmer is currently on the Ineligible Occupations List.

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Minister Humphreys however said this may be reviewed in the future should the appropriate research and evidence indicates labour shortages across the EEA. 

She said submission was made to the most recent review of the occupations lists on behalf of the Pig Farmer occupation.

"However, available research does not indicate a shortage of labour in the sector. 

"It is proposed that the sector provide more information, in particular, detailed evidence of efforts to recruit from within the EEA for consideration during the next review," she said.

The next review of the Occupations Lists is due to commence over the next few weeks when submissions to the next public consultation phase will be invited from interested parties.

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