ILO response to Syrian refugee crisis

Jordan issues first e-work permit for Syrian refugees in construction

The new electronic system was introduced after 16,000 flexible work permits were issued in the sector in one year, as part of an ILO-coordinated agreement between the Ministry of Labour and the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) 

Press release | 19 September 2018
Amman, Jordan (ILO News) The first electronic work permit for Syrian refugees in the construction sector was issued in Jordan, in further efforts to ease the procedure involved in obtaining and renewing work permits for workers.

Some 16,000 work permits have been issued in the sector over the past 12 months. The new electronic system aims to streamline the process of applying and issuing work permits.

Set up by the Ministry of Labour, in close collaboration with the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the on-line application system will also help Syrian refugees living in camps who work in the sectors of construction and agriculture obtain work permits more easily.

The new procedure is an important step in further facilitating the access of Syrian refugees to formal employment in Jordan’s construction sector.

Fatima Al Kilani, head of IT at the Ministry of Labour, said that the ministry launched the electronic work permit system to ease the procedure for employers in relations to the issuance of work permits, adding that the full efforts of all relevant parties were required to ensure the success of the new system.

“A special account has been created for GFJTU to enable them to renew all migrant work permits through the new system,” Al Kilani added.

The latest development comes a year after GFJTU began issuing non-employer-specific work permits in the construction sector, following an ILO-coordinated agreement with the Government. The permits are issued for a minimal fee directly to refugees working. Previously, such permits were tied to specific employers who applied on behalf of workers for specific positions.

“There are more than 4,000 work permits in the construction sector that will be renewed electronically,” said Mohammah Al Ma’aytah, coordinator of the national committee for migrant workers and refugees at the GFJTU. “We hope that the introduction of the new system will ease the process through the reduction in the time and volume of paperwork required.”

ILO’s Regional Resilience and Crisis Response Specialist Maha Kattaa, praised the latest step as an effective way to facilitate work permit issuance. “Formalising the Syrian workforce in Jordan has been the one of our main priorities in our response to the crisis and we hope to replicate this process in other regional countries where we are working to find solutions that benefit governments, employers, and Syrian workers.”

In 2016, Jordan began to ease the application process of issuing work permits to Syrian refugees as part of its commitment at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London to reduce barriers to the legal employment of refugees.

To-date, more than 112,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan have obtained work permits, mostly in the sectors of agriculture, construction and manufacturing, which are open to non-Jordanian workers.

In Jordan, the ILO is implementing activities to enhance employment opportunities and livelihoods for both Jordanians and Syrians through numerous initiatives to generate employment in a number of industries. It has also been advocating for the government to facilitate access to work and livelihoods for Syrian refugees, through giving them work permits in specified sectors in line with Jordanian labour regulations.

The ILO’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan is part of the agency’s Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) in the country, which aims at reducing Decent Work deficits and strengthening national capacity to mainstream Decent Work in social and economic policies.

It is part of the ILO’s wider strategy to help Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.