Changes in Jordan’s work permit regulations for Syrian refugees contribute to decent work – ILO, FAFO report

Findings of a new report which analyses changes in work permit regulations in Jordan since 2016 show a clear positive impact with respect to improving decent working conditions for Syrian workers in the country.

Press release | 26 September 2021
Amman, Jordan (ILO News) The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Institute for Labour and Social Research (Fafo) have published a new report, which analyses the impact of changes in work permit regulations on decent working conditions for Syrian refugees employed in Jordan.

The report, which examines changes introduced in Jordan since 2016, shows that Syrians holding a valid work permit experience more decent working conditions than workers without valid work permits. The analysis also shows that in many areas of decent work, Syrian workers have come closer to the standards of the Jordanian workers over time, indicating a steady assimilation of Syrians into the Jordanian labour market, partly caused by the introduction of the work permit scheme.

However, decent work for Jordanians is still considerably more prevalent compared to Syrians in most areas and improvements are expected through more flexible work permits schemes, the report says.

The report was launched on Sunday (September 26), during a virtual event which brought together representatives from Fafo and the ILO, other UN agencies, development partners, ILO constituents and various national partners to discuss key findings and recommendations.

“This very timely report clearly shows that workers are more likely to experience decent work conditions if they have a work permit and this could be in the form of working hours, having a contract, minimum wage, among other decent work outcomes,” said Frida Khan, ILO Country Coordinator for Jordan during the event. “With the current momentum on the discussion of work permits, we must continue to look at ways which would encourage more workers, especially women, to access work permits for more and better work.”

The report investigates how work permits affect the employment of Syrian workers and analyses gender-specific outcomes by shedding light on several key areas, namely labour force participation rates and employment; wages; stability of work; formality; social cohesion; and social security. It is based on several data sets gathered by ILO and Fafo between 2014 and 2021 and a wide range of decent work indicators.

Supported by Ford Foundation, the report is part of wider efforts to advance the evidence base on the impact of work permit regulations and procedures governing Syrians’ access to the labour market.

“This is a critical moment of post pandemic recovery in Jordan and the region that requires this kind of evidence on the lived realities of informal workers and refugees,” said Ghada Abdel Tawab, Senior Programme Officer for Decent Work and Social Protection at the Ford Foundation. “Just recovery planning needs to be inclusive of informal workers voices and priorities for dignified work and protection both in refugee and host communities.”

The report puts forward recommendations to further increase the number of refugees who have access to work permits. This includes streamlining work permits procedures in a one-stop shop to ease the uptake of work permits, using digital solutions that help to decrease the complexity and delays. It also includes taking more proactive steps to increase the uptake of work permits by women, such as through awareness raising campaigns and their inclusion in social security. Longer term recommendations highlight the need to promote a one refugee approach by supporting the Government of Jordan to expand the work permits scheme applicable for Syrians to workers from other refugee backgrounds.