Ensuring legal employment of persons under UNHCR protection
The project in brief
The project was implemented by the State Migration Service (SMS) in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It began in 2019 and ended in 2020.
Asylum-seekers, refugees and persons under the protection of UNHCR are entitled to work in Azerbaijan. They were able to work without obtaining work permit based on relevant references issued by the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan. However, with the introduction of new regulations certain technical issues created challenges for registering labour contracts of refugees. This activity solved technical challenges and allowed refugees to work and become productive members of Azerbaijani society.
They key goal of the activity was to facilitate implementation of the labour rights of persons under the protection of the UNHCR in Azerbaijan. An important component of this activity was solving the technical challenge regarding registration of labour contracts between employers and persons under the protection of UNHCR and to improve inter-agency coordination in this regard. Furthermore, facilitation of existing procedures was one of the purposes of this action.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Azerbaijan has taken important steps in order to ensure labour rights of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as to improve their access to the legal labour market via improving legal framework. Thus, according to the Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, persons applied for, obtained refugee status or were granted political asylum, are not required to obtain a work permit to engage in paid labour activity in the country. As a result of the measures taken, asylum-seekers, refugees and persons under protection of UNHCR in Azerbaijan were enjoying the right to work based on the relevant certificates issued by the State Migration Service.
However, with the advance of digital technologies new regulations were introduced to strengthen control over labour market. Employers were required to register labour contracts on the relevant data base. Application of new digital technologies created certain technical challenges for persons under the protection of UNHCR to register their new labour contracts.
Therefore, the State Migration Service initiated consultations with relevant state agencies, as well as UNHCR Office in Azerbaijan. Relevant working group consisting of experts were formed to address the technical issues. As a result of several meetings agreement was reached between the State Migration Service and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population and the technical challenge was overcome via relevant changes in the data base. Thus, the activity facilitated the access of persons under the protection of UNHCR to the local labour market by enabling more than 1500 persons under the protection of UNHCR to register their labour contracts in the relevant data base.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
In 1992, the Republic of Azerbaijan joined the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. Article 17 of the Convention, envisages creating favourable legal conditions for persons living in the country on legal grounds to engage in labor activities. The current legislation allows persons who have received refugee status and intending to receive refugee status to engage in work without obtaining a work permit.
According to Article 64.0.15 of the Migration Code, "persons who applied for refugee status, received refugee status or were granted political asylum" are not required to have a work permit to carry out their labour activities. However, the introduction of new digital technologies and regulations to control local labour market created certain technical challenges. The technical challenges that emerged required action from relevant state agencies adapt current practice to new realities.
Therefore, the intervention and will of the State Migration Service enabled to tackle technical challenges which in its turn facilitated the implementation of the good practice.
- State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
According to new regulations employers were required to register labour contracts on the relevant data base. However, the persons under the protection of UNHCR faced challenges to register labour contracts in the relevant data base. There were some loopholes in the existing practice and new regulations.
How they were overcome
In order to solve the problem State Migration Service held consultations with relevant agencies and UNHCR Office.
Thus, thanks to strong partnership with international and local stakeholders, as well as interagency coordination activities and swift reaction by relevant state agencies of Azerbaijan the technical challenge was resolved.
Results of the Good Practice
- Persons under the protection of UNHCR in Azerbaijan were provided with pin codes.
- They were allowed to register labour contracts in the relevant data base.
- Persons under the protection of UNHCR in Azerbaijan got facilitated access to labour market.
- They have become productive members of Azerbaijani society, instead of relying on financial assistance.
Technical support is still being provided. Focal points have been appointed by the State Migration Service and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population to ensure facilitation of the process and to solve any difficulties that may emerge.