Refugees and persons with subsidiary protection have access to the labour market under the same conditions as Hungarian citizens. 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. Typically, the positions of public servant and civil servant demand Hungarian citizenship.
There is no statistical data available on the employment of beneficiaries, 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 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. In the absence of state information provision on the legislative changes concerning labour law introduced in response to the pandemic, Menedék Association provided information and counselling to beneficiaries of international protection. In addition, Menedék Association ran a project, Skills for refugees in 2021 together with IKEA. The initiative aims at helping beneficiaries of international protection gaining new skills and work experience, so that they have a better chance of finding a job, either in IKEA stores and units or in other companies. In this way, they have better opportunities to integrate into their new host communities.
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”). Even though the program does not target specifically beneficiaries of international protection, they can also request the services of the Maltese. In 2021 the organisation could provide support for 17 people with international protection status out of which 6 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 which, similarly to previous years, supported approximately 50 persons in 2020. The program entails job market counselling, mediation and mentoring. It ran in 2021.
Reportedly, due to language and cultural barriers access to employment is essentially 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.
Even though there is legislation based on which the recognition of qualifications for beneficiaries of international protection is possible without official paper, the assessment of such qualifications, skills and abilities is decentralized. It means that there is no centre that would conduct an assessment and issue an official certificate about the qualification of the person concerned but that is left for the employers (as well as to schools and vocational educations). There are no criteria laid down 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. As per the experiences of the Menedék Association, the lack of proper certification of education or trainings completed by refugees or persons with subsidiary protection in practice often implies that they undertake employment for which they are overqualified.
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.
In 2021, as per the Maltese Care Nonprofit Ltd., the labour market started to stabilise again, and in the end of the year, the demand for third-country national employees had grown. Menedék Association noted that, especially in the hospitality sector where many Hungarians left their position, the labour force became scarce. Therefore, international protection beneficiaries could more easily find a job. The Lutheran Church also reported that job opportunities were available primarily in the tourism and the hospitality sectors. The Jesuit Refugee Service reported that many people were forced to take up manual jobs even when offering bad contractual conditions, and to accept part-time or periodical employments. This reflects the general experience of the HHC according to which clients reported, e.g. no holidays to compensate for the overtime working hours were included in their contracts.
In 2021, the Menedék Association published a policy brief on ‘Vulnerability and Discrimination in the Employment of Beneficiaries of International Protection in Hungary – Social Integration of Beneficiaries of International Protection in Hungary’, presenting the development of the employment situation from 2007 by following the analysis of the implementation of the asylum, anti-dis-crimination and employment rules through individual interviews conducted on the basis of the employment indicators of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism project. The policy brief highlights that the legislative background of the labour market is unfavourable for beneficiaries of international protection.
 See the general right to equal treatment in Section 10(1) Asylum Act.
 Section 10(2)(b) Asylum Act.
 Information provided by the Employment Department of Budapest Government Office, 14 March 2018.
 Ibid., pp. 12, 15
 Wolffhardt et al. 2019, 104.
 See also the study Budai, B.: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Labour Market Situation of Beneficiaries of International Protection in Hungary, Social Integration of Beneficiaries of International Protection in Hungary. Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants, 2021. Available at https://bit.ly/35rlXmW.