Employers frustrated over changes to hiring asylum seekers

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Businesses argue that restrictions in the government’s newly introduced policy allowing employers to hire asylum seekers to address labour shortages ahead of the busy summer season defeats the objective.

The previous government introduced the tweak in the state’s policy on hiring asylum seekers to ease labour shortages threatening to cripple the tourism industry.

According to the latest amendment to the law, employers can hire asylum seekers after nine months of applying for protection.

The previous regulations allowed asylum seekers access to the labour market after completing one year since their application.

But the Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEB) sent a letter to Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou, asking the government to push back implementation of the regulation until early 2024.

Employers don’t want a time limitation on when an asylum seeker can be hired, as was the case with a government decree.

Employers claim that labour shortages threaten the capability to operate their establishments, especially before the summer season.

A law allowing asylum seekers access to the labour market was introduced in 2018, while in 2021, a decree issued by the late Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou eliminated the one-year limitation.

However, that decree has now expired, with the previous administration bringing in the adjustment to the law of nine months.

Asylum seekers can be employed in farming, manufacturing, and providing services as distributors of advertising material and ready-made food.

They can also be employed in hotels and the food industry as kitchen helpers and cleaners.

Asylum seekers who have had their application rejected by a first-instance court have the right to appeal to the Administrative Court of International Protection. During this time, they retain the right to work.

Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou is looking into alternatives with Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou.