Sometimes something makes so little sense that it’s hard to believe it’s true. We felt that way when we learned that people seeking asylum in the UK aren’t allowed to work. Really? People who have fled war and violence want to get to work building a new life for themselves and their families. And yet, because of this law, they can’t. So… we were thinking, why not change the rules? Why not let them provide for their families and give back to the country that’s sheltered them? It’s so simple. It makes so much sense. And it can happen if we want it to. Join with us and demand action today.
Sign the petition
Waiting isn’t working
Every year, people are forced to flee their countries due to war or violence. Some people come to the UK to find safety and claim asylum. While they are waiting for the government to make a decision on their claim, they aren’t allowed to work.
The current system is unfair – people can wait years for a decision, unable to work in all that time. It pushes people into poverty and isolation – it just doesn’t make sense! So we’re partnering with Refugee Action as part of the Lift the Ban coalition to ask our government to give people seeking asylum the right to work.
Why do we care?
At Ben & Jerry’s, we’ve always stood up for issues that matter to us, led by guiding principles of fairness and equality. We’ve championed a fair few issues over the years; from marriage equality to climate justice. As a company, we believe we have a unique role to play in mobilising people to call for progressive change.
We believe that everyone deserves a little peace, love and safety, which is why we’re asking our fans to join us in calling on our government here in the UK to give people seeking asylum the right to work.
This is part of the UK Government’s policy to deter people from seeking asylum in the UK, known as the “hostile environment” policy. The problem is, it doesn’t work – people fleeing war and violence have no choice but to leave their countries. Research shows that they go to places based on where they have connections or speak the language, rather than taking into account countries' immigration policies.
While people are waiting for the government to make a decision on their claim, they aren’t allowed to work – oh, unless they’ve been waiting for a year and are a prima ballerina or a nuclear medical practitioner, or any of the very niche jobs on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List. The shortage occupation list is an official list of occupations for which there are not enough resident workers to fill vacancies. It’s extremely restrictive and the Home Office won’t say whether anyone seeking asylum has been able to get a job from it.
This policy change would actually bring us into line with the rest of Europe. Ireland recently changed their policy to give people seeking asylum the right to work.
A refugee is a person who has been officially recognised as needing to flee their country of origin and is unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. A person seeking asylum is somebody who has applied for the same protection but is waiting to hear if their application will be granted in line with the above criteria.
We are asking them to grant the right to work for people seeking asylum, and their adult dependants, unconstrained by the shortage occupation list after six months of having lodged an asylum claim or further submission.
For this campaign we’re partnering with Refugee Action and working as part of a coalition called Lift the Ban. The coalition is made up of around 50 organisations including grassroots groups, NGOs, think tanks and social enterprises. For more information, have a look at their website.
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Refugee Action exists to make the UK a fairer place for people fleeing persecution. Since 1981 we’ve been helping refugees and people seeking asylum rebuild their lives with dignity.