Jordan, August 10, 2017
Jordan issues first-of-their-kind work permits to Syria refugees in the Arab region: ILO

The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) has begun issuing the Arab region’s first non-employer and non-position-specific work permits for Syrian refugees since the Syria crisis erupted in 2011.

The temporary permits are issued for a minimal fee directly to refugees working in Jordan’s construction sector, one of the sectors open to non-nationals according to Jordan’s Labour Law. Previously, such permits were tied to specific employers who applied on behalf of workers for specific positions. Permit applicants must also purchase insurance policies for 50 Jordanian dinars (about $US 70), instead of the previously required and more costly social security subscriptions.

The development follows the signing of an agreement between the trade unions and the Ministry of Labour in June, allowing the GFJTU to issue 10,000 renewable one-year permits annually.

The agreement was reached with the support and coordination of the ILO office in Amman, through the ILO project 'Supporting the Strategic Objective of the London Syria Conference 2016,' which is funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2016, Jordan became the first country from the Arab region to facilitate issuing work permits for Syrian refugees, following the commitment it made at the 2016 Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London to reduce barriers to the legal employment of refugees.

The new permits are also the first non-employer- and non-position-specific permits to be issued to Syrian refugees in the region in the construction.

Increasing the number of work permits issued to refugees and easing the application process will help formalize the Syrian workforce and secure better working conditions for them, said Maha Kattaa, ILO Syrian Refugee Crisis Response Coordinator in Jordan.

'The new permits are a ground-breaking development for the region, and the result of many months of hard work by the Government, the social partners and the ILO,' Kattaa said.

GFJTU Chairman Mazen Al Maaytah said the development was 'another important step towards organizing and formalizing the labour market, in addition to providing a full database on Syrian foreign labour, and regulating the access of refugees to the labour market without jeopardizing work opportunities for Jordanians.'

The GFJTU and the ILO will work together to construct suitable mechanisms to ensure the implementation of the new provision.