Illegal employment of non-EU nationals in Ireland
This report has been peer reviewed prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.
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This is the first comprehensive study on illegal employment concerning both regularly and irregularly staying non-EU nationals in Ireland, which outlines in detail policy and practice with input from a variety of stakeholders. Its purpose is to provide an evidence base for national and EU policymakers, researchers, practitioners working with non-EEA nationals as well as the general public. The study focusses on policy, law and practice in relation to: prevention measures and incentives for compliance, direct policy initiatives, inspections, sanctions and outcomes for people found to be working illegally. The study shows that areas at high risk of illegal employment include the catering sector such as takeaway, fast food and ethnic restaurants; workers in the private home such as childcare workers, including those known as au pairs, and elderly carers. 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. The situation of non-EU students received particular attention in this study due to the recent changes in this area. Despite recent reforms, the study highlights that students working beyond the hours they are permitted to work in accordance with their residence permission is still a feature of the student immigration regime. Students are unique in relation to other migrants in employment in Ireland in that they fall outside of the Employment Permits legislation. The study also shows that in the context of the illegal employment of non-EU nationals it is more likely that a prosecution would occur under the Employment Permits Acts than under the Immigration Act 1999, as amended. Although the WRC has the power to prosecute both employers and employees, they will usually focus solely on the employer.