Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 10/06/21


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Article 27 IPA provides for full and automatic access to the labour market for recognised refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries under the same conditions as nationals, without any obligation to obtain a work permit.

However, as mentioned in Reception Conditions: Access to the Labour Market, high unemployment rates and further obstacles that might be posed by competition with Greek-speaking employees, prevent the integration of beneficiaries into the labour market. Third-country nationals remain over-represented in the relevant unemployment statistical data. As found in a 2018 research “[t]hose few who manage to find a job are usually employed in the informal economy, which deprives them of access to social security, and subjects them to further precariousness and vulnerability. Henceforth, the vast majority of international protection beneficiaries and applicants rely on food, non-food item and financial assistance distributions to meet their basic needs. This often forces them into dangerous income generating activities, and extends the need for emergency services, increases the risk of exploitation, and hinders their integration prospects.”[1]

Due to the abovementioned shortcomings, a lot of beneficiaries of international protection work as irregular peddlers, since it is very difficult to obtain the special work permit required for this profession. Hence, they risk to be fined and jailed.  In a case handled by GCR in October 2020 the First Instance Administrative court of Piraeus ruled that the fine of € 5,000 imposed on a recognised refugee who was working as a street vendor was exorbitant and it had to be adjusted to € 200 due to the amendment of the relative legislation.[2]

The National Integration Strategy[3] provides for several actions to improve access to employment for beneficiaries of international protection. These include a pilot vocational training program for 8,000 recognized refugees in Attica and Central Macedonia in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and an employment program in the agricultural sector for 8,000 refugees in collaboration with the Ministry of Agricultural Development. However, these actions have yet to be implemented.[4]

Similar to asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection face obstacles in the issuance of Tax Registration Number (AFM), which hinder their access to the labour market and registration with the Unemployment Office of OAED. According to GCR’s experience, issuance of an AFM is riddled by severe delays. The procedure for competent Tax Offices to verify refugees’ personal data through the Asylum Service takes approximately 2 months. In case of a professional (εταιρικό) AFM, the procedure takes more than 3.5 months and requires the assistance of an accountant. Moreover, individuals wishing to register with a Tax Office (Διεύθυνση Οικονομικών Υποθέσεων,(DOY) with a view to obtaining AFM are required to certify their residence address through a certificate from a reception centre, an electricity bill or a copy of a rental contract in their name. Accordingly, beneficiaries of international protection who do not hold a residence certificate and/or are homeless are unable to obtain AFM. As a result, they cannot submit a tax declaration or obtain a tax clearance certificate.[5]



[1] ELIAMEP, Refugee Integration in Mainland Greece: Prospects and Challenges, March 2018, available at:, 3

[2]  Decision on file with the author.

[3]  Statement of the Secretary General for Migration Policy at the presentation of the National Integration Strategy, see Ministry for Migration Policy, Press release: Presentation of the “National Integration Strategy”, 17 January 2019.

[4]  CNN, ‘Στα «χαρτιά» η εθνική στρατηγική για την ένταξη των μεταναστών’, 30 September 2019, available in Greek at:

[5]  RSA and Pro Asyl, Idem, para. 15-16

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation