Research Design

The purpose of this research study is to understand the challenges faced by the refugee population around the world when attempting to access safe and lawful employment. Through this research, we will gain an understanding of legal frameworks protecting refugees’ right to work, barriers to gainful employment, and opportunities to improve refugees’ right to work.

Special thanks to the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University for their support in the development of the below methodology.

Research Approach

In order to track and analyze the current situation of refugee works rights in any given country, Asylum Access selected the following indicators. To help clarify country strengths and weaknesses, indicators were divided into three categories: those associated with the Respect for the Right to Work, those associated with the Protection of the Right to Work, and those associated with the Promotion of the Right to Work. Together, these three sets of indicators help paint a complete picture of the status of work rights in each of the researched countries:

Respect for the Right to Work
The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights.

Question: To what extent does the law respect a refugee’s right to work and/or right to self-employment?

  • Is the country a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol?
  • If yes, has this country made a reservation to Articles pertaining to the right to work & self-employment, being 17, 18, 19, or 24 in the Convention?
  • Is the country a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?
  • If yes, have they made reservations to Articles pertaining to the right to work, being 6 & 7 of the Covenant?
  • If a regional refugee law/convention/declaration is relevant, is the country a signatory?
  • Is there a national law that protects a refugee’s right to work? If not, is there a relevant policy?
  • To what extent does national law or policy conform with relevant regional and international norms?*
  • Is there discrimination in law, policy or practice between refugee populations?*

Protection of the Right to Work
The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses.

Question: Are refugees able to enjoy legal access to labor permits, fair treatment in the workplace, and justice for work rights violations?

  • Are refugees able to obtain labor permits?*
  • Do refugees have freedom of movement in relation to work opportunities?*
  • Are refugee wages fair in comparison to national wages for doing the same job?
  • Are refugees able to hold professional and/or high-level management positions?
  • Do refugees report workplace violations and abuse?
  • Are there any cases on record where refugees have been able to prosecute violators of their right to work? If so where?
  • Are there any organizations that provide refugees with legal aid and/or information?
  • Do refugees receive the protection of labor legislation on par with nationals?
  • Do refugees experience discrimination between populations in accessing the labor market and/or accessing justice? *

Promotion of the Right to Work
The obligation to promote means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

Question: Do refugees receive access to vocational training services from the government or other development actors?

  • Does the government provide refugees with access to vocational training?
  • Does the government facilitate access to language skills training?
  • Does the governments provide access to information about their right to work to refugees?
  • Does the government assist in job placements for refugees?
  • Is there judicial training for government officials re: refugee rights?
  • Do NGOs include refugees in their vocational programming?
  • Do NGOs provide access to information about their right to work to refugees?
  • Are NGOs assisting in job placements for refugees?
  • Do refugees experience discrimination between refugee populations in access to services? *

Note: Research questions marked with * were only considered for Latin America and Middle Eastern countries. Going forward, these criterion will be included in all country analyses when they are up for review.

Data Collection

Country Selection
For the purposes of providing an expansive global perspective regarding refugees’ right to work, Asylum Access has chosen countries based on their refugee population size or proportion, as well as countries who may play regional leadership roles. These countries include those in the Middle East and North Africa that have recently been impacted by the Syrian conflict and countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia that have long served as hosts to refugee populations.

Desk Research
Information for scorecards is gathered primarily through desk research and includes the following sources:

  • Government databases at the national, regional and local level
  • Reports from NGOs working directly with refugees
  • International and intergovernmental organizations in the humanitarian/refugee issues sector such as UNHCR and IRC
  • Online databases such as Refworld
  • Reliable News Sources such as BBC and Al Jazeera
  • Academic Journals

More specifically, information in the Respect for the Right to Work section has been obtained by researching national, regional and international conventions.

Information in the respective country’s “Country Facts” table was obtained from UNHCR’s Global Trends Report 2016 and UNHCR Population Statistics. Data is for refugees, including people in refugee-like situations. Any data including asylum seekers will be marked as such.

Asylum Access conducted interviews and issued surveys with subject matter experts that are working directly with refugees and who are based in the researched countries.

Reference Check
An independent reference checker reviewed all citations in the raw data and snapshot analysis for discrepancies between content and the citations within the text of an article. The independent reviewer also checked for stylistic accuracy to ensure all citations are in accordance with the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

Scoring Methodology

Scoring for each country is a qualitative exercise based on the rubric below. If you would like to provide feedback on the scoring methodology, you can do so here. For each country, the three sets of indicators will be rated on a scale of green-to-red as below. The average of the three scores will determine the final score on a scale of green-to-red for each country.

Scorecard details for each category