Skip to main content

Migrant Workers ‘Get Less Favourable Treatment at Work’

Resource type: News

The Irish Independent | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

FOREIGNERS are only half as likely as Irish nationals to have favourable working conditions here, new figures reveal. Those working in the hotel and restaurant sector are faring badly, with the worst rate of access to favourable working conditions in every category.

Almost twice as many non-Irish nationals did not expect to be in their current job in six months, as compared to Irish workers. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) yesterday published its national household survey on working conditions for the first quarter of 2008.

Working conditions are defined as access to paid sick leave, career breaks, paid leave to attend job-related training, and flexible work arrangements such as parental leave. Access to these conditions was lower among non-Irish nationals, in particular those from the 12 newer EU member states.

Just 40pc of immigrants said they had access to any one of these conditions, compared with 76pc of Irish nationals.

Immigrants also fared worst in each individual category.

Paid sick leave was available to 68pc of Irish compared to 34pc of foreigners. Career breaks were 31pc compared to 13pc. Flexible work arrangements were 40pc compared to 19pc, while paid leave to attend job-related training was 48pc compared to 23pc. More than one in six immigrants said they had no knowledge of Irish employment law compared with just 7pc of the Irish. Additionally, only 26pc said they had a lot of understanding, compared with 46pc of the Irish.


The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the figures represent “clear evidence” that migrants in the workplace are being treated “less favourably”. Minister of State for Integration John Curran said he had “no comment” to make last night. Immigrant Council CEO Denise Charlton said: “In the current economic situation, it is more important than ever that the Government rigorously enforces employment laws to ensure migrants are not being exploited in the workplace.”

Employees in the hotel and restaurant sector reported the lowest level of access to each of the four categories of working conditions covered.

Just under a quarter of employees responded that they had paid sick leave available in this sector, compared with 64pc of employees overall, and only 6pc reported having the option of a career break, compared with 28pc of all employees. Less than half of workers in the sector reported receiving a contract.

The Irish Hotel Federation said the industry had “excellent opportunities” to offer potential employees and that the figures must be weighed against the “transient” nature of the business.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland: