Government Announces Largest Ever Expansion to the Employment Permits System

Salary thresholds for permit holders increased and 43 additional occupations become eligible for employment permits

Last month the Government announced the largest ever expansion of the employment permits system in an effort to address the skills gap in a number of key areas in the economy.

The Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, announced 43 changes to the jobs eligible for an employment permit as well as a roadmap for increasing salary thresholds.

The main changes include:

  • 11 roles added to the Critical Skills Occupations List
  • 32 roles made eligible for a General Employment Permit
  • salary requirements for:
    • the majority of General Employment Permit holders rises from €30,000 to €34,000 in January 2024
    • healthcare assistants and home carers salary requirement increases from €27,000 to €30,000 in January 2024
    • horticultural workers and meat processor salary requirement increases from €22,000 to €30,000 in January 2024
  • extension of existing quotas for dairy farm assistants, butcher/deboners, meat processors and horticultural workers
  • a Labour Market Needs Test (LMNT) is required for General Employment Permit applications and will have to reflect the revised thresholds in order to be deemed valid 

As a result of effective full employment, demand on the employment permits system is very high.

A roadmap for increasing salary thresholds for all types of employment permits was also announced.

The salary threshold for General Employment Permits was €30,000 and had not changed in almost a decade. This increased to €34,000 in January 2024, and further

Several occupations which had previously been made eligible for General Employment Permits (GEPs) have had their quotas extended, with effect from January 2024.

  • 1,000 GEPs for meat processing operatives
  • 350 GEPs for butcher/deboners
  • 350 GEPs for dairy farm assistants

1,000 GEPs have been provided for horticultural workers to support the sector until the introduction of the Seasonal Employment Permit