Ireland relies on immigration for home-care sector workers

A policy paper published on Tuesday, 22 September 2015, states that the homecare industry in Ireland is very much reliant on immigration of care workers from outside the EU. However, the paper says that the treatment of foreign workers currently serving across the industry sector needs to improve 'vastly'.

'Migrant Workers in the Homecare Sector: Preparing for the Elder Boom in Ireland' is a paper published by the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland [MRCI]. Funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the paper says that 'it's no surprise that Ireland relies on immigration to meet the demands of the homecare sector.'

However, the paper goes on to identify a number of issues concerning the treatment of migrant workers in the homecare field. In the paper, the MRCI makes recommendations to 'achieve a care industry that not only serves the rights of the elderly people receiving care, but the migrant workers providing that care.'

The policy paper's author, Aoife Smith, said: "Quality care is intrinsically linked to quality jobs. It would be difficult to ask a migrant worker, or anyone for that matter, to provide a high standard of care if their own requirements are not being met."

Challenging working conditions

In a separate report published by the MRCI, following a review of conditions for migrant workers employed across the homecare sector, the organisation said that migrant care workers were 'heavily subjected to discrimination, harassment and racism.' The report further focused on the issue of migrant workers being over worked and under paid.

Ireland's immigration rules for migrant workers

At present, non-EU workers can take up employment in Ireland if they have a work permit. However, in 2009, the country's immigration authorities , apart from in very limited circumstances, stopped issuing work permits for the domestic work sector deeming the area to be well-represented in terms of workers. Some new work permits have been granted for domestic workers, but not in a high enough volume to provide a sufficient supply of labour.

As a result of fewer new permits being issued, Ireland's domestic work sector is suffering from what the MRCI describes as a 'large number of informal and irregular workers present across the sector.'

In its latest policy paper the MRCI says that a 'disconnect between Ireland's labour migration policy and employment demand has resulted in an increasingly more exploitative system.' A survey of 500 undocumented migrant workers revealed that 30 per cent of them were employed in private homes as domestic workers, the majority of whom care for elderly people.

In Ireland, there's no statutory right to homecare leaving many families struggling to pay for the necessities of caring for someone at home. This leaves families looking to get more for their money; migrant workers are quite often the solution.

No immigration status

The MRCI's policy paper found that many non-EU domestic carers are in Ireland illegally, they have no immigration status, and many have no way of becoming a legitimate part of Ireland's workforce. However, the MRCI says that a shortage of domestic care workers shows that Ireland relies on immigration to fill vacancies in the home-care sector.

The MRCI also said that they're often contacted by families and asked to check that a domestic worker they're already employing has a work visa to work in Ireland. The MRCI said: "That's a problem because there's no system to check on someone who has arrived in Ireland without a work permit."

The MRCI has called for new legislation to be introduced to licence and monitor homecare. In addition they feel that it should be easier to obtain work permits for non-EU domestic and a system introduced for legalising undocumented immigrants.

Interest in Irish immigration increasing

We are receiving increasing interest in Ireland as an immigration option. If you have a contract or employment in Ireland, this may be worth considering. For many it is difficult to gain entry or leave to remain in the UK.

In the UK fewer people now qualify for indefinite leave to remain. The UK Government is likely to take even more steps in future to restrict Tier 2 visas. The Tier 2 work visa is one of the few options left for work based entry to the UK.

If you are a highly skilled worker with good qualifications and experience then we may be able to come up with an immigration route for Ireland.