In accordance with international law, it is common practice
in most member States of the Council of Europe to grant refugees
the right to work; asylum seekers are usually granted the same right
after a certain length of time has elapsed.
Successful employment of asylum seekers and refugees is beneficial
to host societies, in that the State has fewer costs providing social
assistance, and societies are more likely to be cohesive, as employment
is linked to other areas of integration. Access to the labour market
is also important to the individual because it helps reinstate a
sense of self-worth, is crucial to human dignity, facilitates recovery
from trauma and encourages financial independence.
Yet a gap remains between the legal right of refugees to take
up employment and their successful integration into host societies’
labour markets. Furthermore, States need to ensure that asylum seekers
are allowed to work if there is to be any delay in dealing with
their asylum applications. Refugees need not only the legal authorisation
to work but they must also be able to execute this right. In order
to ensure this, it is important to reduce legal, administrative
and practical barriers to participation in the labour market, such
as restrictions on work permits. They also need to promote integration
programmes, including language classes and courses on how to access
the labour market.