Access to the labour market

United Kingdom

Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 10/07/24


Sonia Lenegan

The law provides for refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection the same access to the labour market as UK citizens.[1] In practice, very few individuals will enter the labour market immediately; some will need to ensure their qualifications allow them to practice their profession and may need to retrain or pass exams to allow them to practice e.g. doctors.[2] These requirements will vary by profession and employer. Many refugees may have had limited language provision when they were seeking asylum so may need to learn English sufficient to access the labour market. Government funded English classes have been criticised as lacking in proper funding meaning that people are unable to access the amount of teaching that they need.[3]

A Home Office initiative is the Refugee Employability Programme which aims to support refugees to find work. This provides CV writing classes, sector specific training and interview practice as well as English language and integration support.[4]

There is little practical support provided by the state although when applying for the main welfare benefit for those fit to work (Job Seekers Allowance) individuals are required to show evidence of applications for jobs they have made and are questioned about this by an adviser.




[1] Paragraph 334B Immigration Rules.

[2] UKENIC, ‘Statement of comparability’, accessed 24 March 2024, available at :

[3] Refugee Action, ‘Let Refugees Learn’, accessed 24 March 2024, available at :  

[4] Home Office, Refugee employability programme, 27 October 2023,  

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