Jordan's construction sector employs the largest number of Syrian refugees working without work permits - and hence deserves sector-specific interventions.
An assessment conducted by the ILO and the Institute for Applied International Studies (FAFO) in 2015 found that 40 per cent of working Syrian refugees in Jordan were employed in construction - one of the sectors open to `non-Jordanians' under the country's labour regulations. According to estimates, around 201,042 Syrians are active in the labour force, of whom 84,000 (42 per cent) are employed in the labour market. This means that around 33,600 Syrians work in construction, of whom only 3,000 have work permits and are therefore formally registered by the Ministry of Labour (MOL). The remaining 30,600 - or 91 per cent - of Syrians working in construction are employed without work permits.
The presence of Syrian refugees in the informal economy contributes to the segmentation of the Jordanian labour market with a new layer of Syrian refugees willing to work bellow national labour standards due to lack of better options. This has fueled "a race to the bottom" that affects wages and working conditions of not only Syrians, but Jordanians as well, particularly women and youth. On-going efforts to formalise Syrian refugee employment will help prevent the further deterioration of wages and working conditions for Jordanian and Syrian workers in the country.
Through ILO support in implementing sector-specific interventions to formalise jobs and provide decent work environments, the Ministry of Labour and the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ease the process of issuing work permits to Syrian refugees in the construction sector. The agreement allows work permits to be issued through the GFJTU, and stipulates that workers should be covered by a private insurance scheme. The permits are issued for renewable one-year periods. Permit applicants must purchase insurance policies for 50 Jordanian dinars (about SUS 70).
Applicants for the new work permits must hold a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) certificate, which is obtained through the Centre for Accreditation and Quality Assurance (CAQA). The RPL course that workers are required to complete includes sections related to occupational safety and health (OSH), in which workers receive practical instruction on workplace health and safety measures and requirements.
This development also benefits employers. The Recognition of Prior Learning Certificate helps employers match job requirements to workers with the right skills, and the mandatory insurance coverage improves protection of workers.