REC signs up to 'Lift the Ban' on asylum seekers' right to work

Filed under Press release

Tuesday, 30 April 2019


The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has signed up to the ‘Lift the Ban’ coalition, which is calling for the right to work for those seeking asylum. 

The coalition, led by Refugee Action and Asylum Matters, consists of over 170 charities, faith groups, businesses and unions, including TUC, Church of England, Ben & Jerry’s and the CBI. 

People seeking asylum in the UK are effectively prohibited from working. They can only apply to the Home Office for permission to work if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over 12 months, and only for jobs that are on the government’s restricted (and restrictive) Shortage Occupation List.

People seeking refugee status can wait years for a decision on their asylum claim. Meanwhile, they live on just £5.39 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families.

Neil Carberry, Recruitment & Employment Confederation chief executive, said:

“Removing the barriers to employment faced by people seeking asylum in the UK is the right thing to do. Asylum seekers do not want to be a burden on their host country, and allowing them the right to work would help bring some dignity and normality back into their lives.

“With candidate shortages across the UK economy, even before the UK has left the EU, UK business can’t afford to waste the skills of those who come here seeking sanctuary. People seeking asylum must be allowed to put their talents to use and earn a fair wage for their contribution.”

The UK has one of the most restrictive policies at a time when employers are struggling to recruit the labour and skills they need. No other European country enforces a minimum 12-month waiting period. This is equally true of Canada and the US. If the UK were to adopt a six-month waiting period, unrestricted by the Shortage Occupation List, it would go from being an outlier to joining the international mainstream.

Speaking on behalf of the Lift the Ban coalition, Stephen Hale from Refugee Action said:

“People seeking asylum tell us every day how they want to use their skills and contribute to society. Being unable to work, often for long periods of time, is hugely frustrating for them, leaving them trapped in poverty and unable to participate in the world of work. It makes both moral and economic sense for the ban to be lifted so the coalition of over 170 organisations is working together to urge the Government to move rapidly on this issue.”



Notes to Editors:

1. Lift the Ban is a national coalition of organisations campaigning for people seeking asylum, and their adult dependants, to have the right to work, unconstrained by the shortage occupation list after six months of applying for asylum, or making a further submission. We want people who have risked everything to find safety in our country to have the best chance of contributing to our society and integrating into our communities.

2. The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is a list of skilled occupations that are in high demand in the UK, and which employers struggle to fill. The list is reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) each year, and jobs on the list do not need to be advertised before they can be offered to migrants. They are also the only jobs that people seeking asylum in the UK are allowed to apply for.

Press enquiries:

For more information, contact the REC Press Office on 0207 009 2129/2157 or An ISDN line is available for interviews on 0207 021 0584.

The REC is all about brilliant recruitment, which drives our economy and delivers opportunity to millions. As the voice of the recruitment industry, we champion high standards, speak up for great recruiters, and help them grow. Recruitment is a powerful tool for companies and candidates to build better futures for themselves and a strong economy for the UK. Find out more about the Recruitment & Employment Confederation at


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