Jordan issues “ground-breaking” work permits for Syrian refugees


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 11 August 2017| 18 Zhul Qadha 1438

AMMAN — The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) has begun issuing the Arab region’s first non-employer and non-position-specific work permits for Syrian refugees since the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011.

The temporary permits are issued for a minimal fee directly to refugees working in Jordan’s construction sector, one of the sectors open to non-nationals according to Jordan’s Labour Law. Previously, such permits were tied to specific employers who applied on behalf of workers for specific positions.

Permit applicants must also purchase insurance policies for JD50 (about $70), instead of the previously required and more costly social security subscriptions.

The development follows the signing of an agreement between the trade unions and the Ministry of Labour in June, allowing the GFJTU to issue 10,000 renewable one-year permits annually.

The agreement was reached with the support and coordination of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) office in Amman, through the ILO project “Supporting the Strategic Objective of the London Syria Conference 2016”, which is funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2016, Jordan became the first country from the Arab region to facilitate issuing work permits for Syrian refugees, following the commitment it made at the 2016 Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London to reduce barriers to the legal employment of refugees.

The new permits are also the first non-employer- and non-position-specific permits to be issued to Syrian refugees in the region in construction.

Increasing the number of work permits issued to refugees and easing the application process will help formalise the Syrian workforce and secure better working conditions for them, said Maha Kattaa, ILO’s Syrian refugee crisis response coordinator in Jordan.

“The new permits are a ground-breaking development for the region, and the result of many months of hardwork by the government, the social partners and the ILO,” Kattaa said.

“Formalising the Syrian workforce in Jordan has been a goal for both the ILO and the Jordanian government, since the refugee crisis erupted,” Kattaa continued.

“Our task in this case was not only to identify the challenges refugees face when obtaining work permits, especially in the construction sector which employs a large number of refugees, but also to support the government of Jordan in finding solutions that serve the interests of the government, employers, and Syrian workers.”

Applicants for the new work permits must hold “Recognition of Prior Learning” certificates, which are obtained through the Centre for Accreditation and Quality Assurance.

GFJTU Chairman Mazen Al Maaytah said the development was “another important step towards organising and formalising the labour market, in addition to providing a full database on Syrian foreign labour, and regulating the access of refugees to the labour market without jeopardising work opportunities for Jordanians.”

The development will also benefit employers as the Recognition of Prior Learning Certificate will help employers match job requirements to workers with the right skills, and the enrolment of workers in social security schemes will cover workers in cases of work-related injuries.

The GFJTU and the ILO will work together to construct suitable mechanisms to ensure the implementation of the new provision. One important aspect will be the establishment of GFJTU centres in locations across Jordan.

Staff in the centres will follow up on the status of permit applications, assist workers in acquiring the required documents, submit applications to local government offices, and register applicants for Recognition of Prior Learning Certificates.

Additionally, a knowledge-sharing campaign will be launched to ensure the dissemination of information between employers and Syrian workers.

Source – Muslim Village