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Today, a petition with 181,399 signatures was handed in to the UK Government’s Home Office, asking for the UK Government to #LiftTheBan. 

Some people in the UK are banned from working. These people are seeking asylum, and while they wait months, and often years, for a decision on their asylum claim they are left to live on just £5.66 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families, while their talents are wasted and their integration set back.  

71% of the public agree that people seeking asylum should be allowed to work, and this is just one of the good reasons and practical arguments to lift the ban. 

Just Fair is part of the Lift the Ban Coalition, made up of over 200 non-profit organisations, think tanks, businesses, trade unions and faith groups, who have come together to call on the UK Government to give people seeking asylum the right to work. 

In August and September 2018, Lift the Ban coalition member organisations across the UK carried out a survey with 246 people who have direct experience of the asylum process.  

“We want to work, to pay bills, to pay tax. Put something into the community so that money can help the ones who really need help.” 

94% of respondents said they would like to work if they were given permission to do so. 

52% of survey respondents said they had to use a food bank at some point in the year. 

What happens elsewhere? The UK’s approach to employment rights for people seeking asylum is significantly more restrictive than that of any other comparable country.

The Lift The Ban Coalition has published data showing the UK has one of the longest lengths of time (in months) before people seeking asylum are given the right to work. 

As shown in a report by Just Fair and the Lift the Ban coalition, lifting the ban on asylum seekers would also be in line with international human rights standards. In accordance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – which the UK has voluntarily committed to – everyone is entitled to just and favourable conditions of work, including a fair and decent remuneration, equal pay for equal work between men and women, safe and healthy working conditions, equal opportunities of promotion, and reasonable working hours and paid holidays.  

Everyone should enjoy the rights recognised in the International Covenant, including refugees and people seeking asylum, who are at greater risk of facing discrimination in the enjoyment of their socio-economic rights.  

The body which oversees these human rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said “pending a decision on their claim to be recognised as refugees, asylum seekers should be granted a temporary status, allowing them to enjoy economic, social and cultural rights without discrimination”. 

A change to the UK Government’s policy would be welcomed by the public and it would benefit the economy. It would also mean the UK meets international human rights law and is no longer a continental outlier. 

It’s time to #LiftTheBan and ensure people in the UK are allowed to work. We have come together to make sure no one is left behind.   

To read more, see Lift The Ban and Just Fair’s report, ‘Lift the Ban: The Right to Work of People Seeking Asylum in the UK according to International Human Rights Law’ and Koldo Casla’s article, ‘End the counter-productive and costly ‘work ban’ on people seeking asylum’.   

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