ILO report urges more work permits for Syrian refugees

(Photo: From The International Labor Organization facebook Page)
AMMAN  — A recent report recommended increasing the number of work permits issued to Syrian refugees in Jordan, according to Al-Ghad News. 
The report issued by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Fafo Research Foundation, urged adopting digital solutions to facilitate procedures to issue work permits to Syrian refugees through a single platform in order to reduce delays.

The report analyzed changes in work permit regulations, and stressed the importance of ensuring decent work conditions for Syrian refugees, taking proactive steps to grant more permits to women, in addition to including them in social security.

The report’s long-term recommendations highlight the need to develop one process for all refugees, which would be achieved by providing support to the Jordanian government and expanding the scope of the work permits program to include other refugees from other nationalities.

The report also pointed to the changes in the circumstances of Syrian refugees who have held Jordanian work permits since 2016, adding that these permits guarantee better lives for refugees. The report said that Syrian workers have come very close to achieving decent work standards similar to those of Jordanian workers in many sectors.
The report added that despite that Jordanians still enjoy better work conditions in most sectors when compared to their Syrian counterparts. The report added that “improvements are expected to be made by issuing more flexible programs.” 

The ILO country coordinator, Frida Khan, said: “The report clarifies the possibility that workers could gain decent work conditions if they already had work permits, which would be reflected in setting (better) work hours, having an employment contract, and getting paid the minimum wage.”

Khan said there is a need to encourage more Syrian workers, especially women, to get work permits in order to provide more and better opportunities for them.

In addition, the report examines how work permits may affect the hiring of Syrian refugees. It analyzed conclusions related to diversity by shedding light on a number of sectors. It also highlights the participation rate in the labor force, as well as job opportunities, wages, work stability, the formal economy, social cohesion, and social security.

The report is based on data collected by the ILO and Fafo between 2014 and 2021.

The report, which was partly made possible by the Ford Foundation, aims at enhancing the database on work permit regulations and the regulatory procedures for allowing Syrian refugees into the Jordanian job market. 

The head of the decent work and social protection program at the Ford Foundation, Ghada Abdel Tawab, said: “This is a challenging situation in the midst of the COVID-19 recovery stage in Jordan and the region, which requires this level of evidence on the reality of unregulated workers and refugees.” 

“Planning for a fair recovery must include all unregulated workers and the priority must be for decent work and protection provided for refugees and host communities alike,” Abdel Tawab said. 

For his part, Rami Qwaider, a lawyer, told Al-Ghad News that facilitating procedures and giving workers permits is a process which was established based on international agreements. The aim was to transfer those workers from unregulated to regulated work, ensure their rights, provide a decent and safe work environment for them in line with national and international standards. 

He said that such refugee workers must be exempt from holding a valid passport and instead only be required to present the service card which the Syrian Ministry of Interior issued them. 

Workers with work permits are also exempt from fees, in addition to giving them insurance, including them in the social security program, and reducing costs for them. 

Qwaider said that having a work permit does not mean the refugee loses the status of refugee or that aid will stop. He said having a work permit ensures refugees have a fixed salary and not only depend on aid. He said that there are special instructions exclusively for Syrian refugees.
Qwaider added that the government has signed memorandums of understanding with the UNHCR, and that there is a national response plan for the Syrian crisis, a part of which focuses on highlighting the state’s programs and policies towards refugees. 

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