KPMG Law LLP logo

21 February 2024

The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (‘DETE’) recently introduced significant changes relating to employment permits applications, with the addition of several new roles now eligible for an employment permit, an increase to the salary thresholds, and changes to quotas. We outline the main changes below.

Changes to employment permit eligibility criteria

New eligible roles

The additional job roles which can now attract an employment permit are across several sectors with the objective of addressing labour shortages in: Agriculture/Food; Arts/Culture; Communications/Energy; Construction/Engineering/ Life Sciences; Disability, Health, and Social Care Services; IT; Forestry; and Transport.

Changes to permit quotas

Quotas limiting the amount of employment permits issued apply to certain industry roles only. These quotas are based on labour migration, meeting the demands of specific sectors in response to employer demands, and Ireland’s overall labour market needs. Existing quotas have been increased for certain areas such as meat processing (1,000 GEPs), butcher/boner (350 GEPs), and horticultural workers (1,000 GEPs) ahead of a new and anticipated Seasonal Employment Permit.

Changes to salary thresholds

The salary thresholds for employment permits had not changed in a number of years and have now been increased to reflect Ireland’s economic growth. In addition to the salary increases, a roadmap for the salary thresholds has been introduced with indicative salary thresholds for 2025 included in the chart below alongside the new 2024 rates.

Employment Permit Type Current annual base gross salary threshold (based on a 39-hour working week) Annual base gross salary threshold from 17 January 2024 (based on a 39-hour working week) Indicative annual base gross salary threshold from January 2025 (based on a 39-hour working week)
General Employment Permit €30,000 €34,000 €39,000
Critical Skills Employment Permit (lower salary threshold with degree requirement and must be on the Critical Skills Occupations List) €32,000 €38,000 €44,000
Critical Skills Employment Permit (higher salary threshold with experience required) €64,000 No change No change
Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit €40,000 €46,000 €53,000
Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit (Trainee) €30,000 €34,000 €39,000
Contract for Services Employment Permit €40,000 €46,000 €53,000

Labour market needs test

All GEP applications continue to require a Labour Market Needs Test (‘LMNT’). There are limited exceptions to this rule i.e., for roles on the Critical Skills Occupations List, where the salary is above €64,000 per annum, or applications with the support of an Enterprise Development Agency such as IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland. Where the LMNT does not reflect the new salary thresholds, the employment permit application will likely be refused. Support letters from IDA Ireland should clearly indicate that the LMNT has been waived in respect of the particular applicant.

What do employers need to be aware of?

Employment permits are ‘live’ documents. Any changes over their lifetime, no matter how minor, should be notified to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The phased approach to the increase in salary thresholds excludes existing employment permit holders. There is, therefore, no requirement for employers with existing third country national employees on employment permits to take any action.

Employers need to be mindful of the impact of the salary changes on business’ budgets, at a time when costs have increased, and there is a general labour shortage across a number of industries. Employers should also note that employment permit salary thresholds will be increasing year on year.

Queries? Get in touch

Our Employment Law and Immigration team, led by Aoife Newton, can advise employers on all corporate immigration queries and applications. Please contact a member of the team for more information.

aoife newton

Aoife Newton

Head of Employment and Immigration Law