Greece: Refugees now have immediate access to employment
According the Presidential Decree 220/2007 in its Article 10(1), applicable until recently, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection could access the Greek labour market through a work permit. Application could be submitted once individuals were provided with relevant identity documents such as a refugee or asylum seekers card. With the publication of the Circular of the Social Insurance Organisation of Freelance Professionals (ΟΑΕΕ) on 26 October 2016, which marks the entry into force of the new Asylum Law 4375/2016 voted 6 months earlier, refugees, asylum seekers and their spouses will automatically gain access to employment with their stay permits.
In 2014, a UNHCR report raised awareness on refugee labour market issues, with a focus on legislation and procedures. It revealed that in 2013, regional authorities issued and renewed 6,952 work permits and rejected 1,620 requests while more than 33,000 applications for international protection were pending with the police. One year later, experts from the European network AIDA pointed out the lack of job search and orientation services in some reception centres.
In its articles 68-71, the new Asylum Law addresses the first issue by giving immediate access to employment to recognised beneficiaries of international protection and those who have been granted residence status for humanitarian reasons in Greece, as of the delivery of a valid residence permit. Those who have lodged applications for international protection gain the same right as soon as they are holders of the required 'Card of an applicant for international protection' or 'Card of asylum seeker'.
The Asylum Law 4375/2016 also covers the organisation and operation of the asylum service.