Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 15/04/21


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Refugees and persons with subsidiary protection have access to the labour market under the same conditions as Hungarian citizens.[1] This means that no labour market test is applicable regarding their employment. There is only one provision established in the Asylum Act, which makes a difference as to beneficiaries of international protection. Accordingly, beneficiaries may not take up a job or hold an office or position, which is required by law to be fulfilled by a Hungarian citizen.[2] Typically, the positions of public servant and civil servant demand Hungarian citizenship.

There is no statistical data available on the employment of beneficiaries,[3] thus the effectiveness of their access to employment in practice cannot be measured. In practice, the main obstacle beneficiaries of international protection have upon job search is Hungarian language. There is no state support targeting specifically people with international protection for obtaining employment. Beneficiaries of international protection are entitled to use the services of the National Labour Office under the same condition as Hungarian citizens, even though it is hard to find an English-speaking case officer.

In practice, having recognised that the absence of social capital, the knowledge of local language and the cultural differences pose major challenges for beneficiaries seeking jobs, such as regarding housing (see Housing), NGOs provide some assistance in this sector as well. However, their activities are limited to Budapest.

Even though the “MentoHRing” programme of the Menedék Association[4] was terminated with the end of the AMIF funding in June 2018, the organisation still had certain activities facilitating the job search of beneficiaries of international protection in 2020.

The Maltese Care Nonprofit Ltd. provides services such as individual labour market counselling, labour market training and personalized help with job seeking to third-country nationals (see “Jobs for you”). However, the program does not target specifically beneficiaries of international protection, they can also request the services of the Maltese. In 2020 the organisation could provide support for 15 people with international protection status out of which 4 people could in the end successfully undertake employment. The organisation would again broaden the program’s target group in case a grant from AMIF was again available.

Kalunba has a coaching programme within which similarly to the previous years it supported in approximately 50 persons in 2020. The program entails job market counselling, mediation and mentoring.

Reportedly, due to language and cultural barriers access to employment is limited to certain sectors such as physical labour (as working in construction, storage etc.) and hospitality. The average working hours are 12 hours per day (although in many cases people are provided only with a part-time contract) here, which renders integration of people with international protection status more difficult since they have no free time besides work.

There are no criteria stressed out in the law as to the assessment of levels of professional education and skills. There are no assessment guidelines for cases where documentary evidence from the country of origin is unavailable either.[5] This is confirmed by the experiences of the Menedék Association, according to which the lack of proper certification of education or trainings completed by refugees or persons with subsidiary protection often results in undertaking employment for which they are overqualified. As for the Baptist Integration Centre, employment experiences for beneficiaries were diverse in 2019. Whereas there were cases without any difficulties regarding employment, in one instance the employer withdrew the job offer after having heard that the job-seeker was a refugee.

As per the experience of HHC and as reported by the contacted organisations the economic backlash due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries to a great extent. Many worked in hospitality and tourism, therefore lost their jobs or even if they could keep it the working hours were greatly reduced. Reportedly, after many of them started to work again full time, the working hours were not set back officially by the employer which is disadvantageous especially for those who want to get reunified with their families or apply for Hungarian citizenship later as these procedures require the proof of sufficient income where a part-time job does not qualify as such. Those who lost their jobs could hardly find new employment; therefore many people remained without work for months. It posed difficulties also on those who had just received their status and tried to undertake employment, as well as those receiving aftercare as due to the lockdown they could not work, thus their subsistence was threatened as the aftercare assistance is solely not enough to cover all their expenses. Beneficiaries similarly to many Hungarians have no savings. According to the Maltese the available jobs on the market were shrinking, as the majority of the companies suspended their hiring processes, therefore the applications for the available places surged. For the vacant positions the companies opted for Hungarian applicants speaking properly the language in the detriment of beneficiaries of international protection.



[1]        See the general right to equal treatment in Section 10(1) Asylum Act.

[2]        Section 10(2)(b) Asylum Act.

[3]        Information provided by the Employment Department of Budapest Government Office, 14 March 2018.

[4]        See the programme at:

[5]        Wolffhardt et al. 2019, 104.

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