Asylum seeker asks court to abolish 24-week working time limit
An asylum seeker has taken the government to court demanding the right to work more than the 24 weeks permitted by law.
The 25-year-old man, named only as Elvis, has been working in a slaughterhouse in Harderwijk since 2021, a year after fleeing Nigeria with his partner.
Because he does not have residential status he is barred from working more than 24 weeks a year, a rule that was imposed to prevent asylum seekers qualifying for unemployment benefits.
He is bringing the case together with Maarten van Panhuis, a former VVD councillor who runs a personnel agency that connects refugees and local employers.
The independent advisory council on migration advised the government to change the law in 2020, arguing it was likely to be in breach of European rules on free movement of labour.
‘In the meantime it’s 2023 and asylum seekers who want to work are still sitting twiddling their thumbs for the majority of the year,’ Van Panhuis told NOS.
Elvis said part of his wages went towards his own food and accommodation at an asylum seekers’ centre in Harderwijk, but working helped him integrate better into society. ‘It feels useful to contribute something to the Netherlands,’ he said.
‘Work is good for you. You spend time with people and learn the language, which is very nice and important.’
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