Following reports of human rights abuses and labour exploitation against this category of workers, the International Workers Transport Federation (IWTF) sought an immediate moratorium on the issuing of visas to non-EEA fishing fleet workers until a full review of the conditions was carried out.
On the 30th April 2019, agreement on the scheme between the IWTF and the various government agencies was reached. The main terms of the agreement are as follows:
Contract of Employment
Every intended participant under the scheme is to receive their contract of employment and their letter of approval in their native language, as well as English. The contract should include clear wording regarding the worker's entitlements to pay, working-hours, and rest periods. The government has committed to ratifying EU Directive 2017/159 into Irish law by the 15th of November, regulating maximum hours of work, minimum hours of rest, and personnel requirements aboard commercial fishing vessels.
Enhanced Awareness of Rights
A link to a webpage explaining the worker's rights and information on where the worker can make complaints regarding any violation of these rights will be provided in the “atypical” working scheme letter of approval.
Decreased Chances of Exploitation
Costs associated with applications under the Atypical Workers Scheme cannot be taken from the fishing fleet worker's wages. No employment permission will be granted to any non-EEA national to work in the State or its seas without a contract with a specific employer.
Where the Department of Justice & Equality becomes aware that a fishing fleet worker has left their employment, for any reason, before the end of their twelve month contract, a letter will issue to the non-EEA worker requesting that they provide details of their new contract of employment under the scheme to the Department of Justice & Equality within 28 days.
If you are a non-EEA national looking to take up employment in the Irish fishing fleet, or an employer in this area, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have on the recent changes to the scheme, in addition to guiding you through the atypical working visa process.
If you are thinking of engaging a lawyer, why not contact us today to see if we can assist? Any of our solicitors will be delighted to speak with you without obligation.