Refugees already face immense challenges to their mental health. They have feared for their lives and those of loved ones, and they have been terrorised by a harsh asylum procedure in the world that treats them like criminal suspects.
The anxiety is compounded by delays in asylum decision-making, and the inability to meet basic living costs during the process. According to research conducted by a group of psychiatrists in 2009, around a third of refugees suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression.
A World Health Organisation report identified unemployment as “one of the main factors associated with poor mental health outcomes for refugees”. The question of allowing asylum seekers the right to work is raised in certain media outlets from time to time.
The Home Office guide on “right to work checks” starts by describing illegal employment and the penalties, which does not seem like a good way to encourage potential employers. Even one large national media organisation I applied to was not sure about who had the right to work in the UK; a message from them where they were squeamish about my status is still fresh in my mind. Only on page 22 of the guide does it unequivocally state that a person with refugee status “has unrestricted access to the labour market”.
And if you can find work as a refugee, then it’s not likely to be the best deal. In 2016, a study by the OECD and the European Commission in Europe found that refugees are hired for jobs below what their level of formal education qualifies them for and earn half that of those born in the UK.
Read more on TheGuardian.com.