The Government has announced new measures to allow eligible asylum seekers to work while their applications for refugee status are being considered.

The move was announced by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister of State David Stanton this afternoon.

No fees or income limits will apply under the initiative and there will be no restriction to temporary or permanent jobs.

However, asylum seekers will not be eligible to work in the civil and public service, the gardaí, Defence Forces or embassies due to the existing residency requirements for such posts.

Under the new scheme, asylum seekers who are waiting more than nine months for a decision on their first application for refugee status will be able to apply for permission to work.

Applications will be assessed by the Labour Market Unit in the Department of Justice, which will issue a letter to asylum seekers, which can be shown to employers. 

Asylum seekers will be granted permission to work for six months, which will be renewed every six months after that, pending a final decision on their application for refugee status.

During this period, if they are turned down for refugee status they can continue to work while the decision is appealed. They will not be able to work if their appeal is unsuccessful.

Permission to work will only apply to those making their first application for refugee status.

Asylum seekers who gain employment will be able to leave direct provision centres and live elsewhere.

However, if they stay their direct provision allowance of €21.60 a week will be reduced depending on their earnings.

This will only come into effect after they have been working for 12 weeks. The reductions will be done on a sliding scale and will be capped.

Likewise, those who gain employment will be required after a period to contribute to the €35-a-day average costs of living in direct provision. Their contribution will depend on their earnings and will be done on a sliding scale.

The contributions will be capped at around €35-a-day. Children will not be affected and will not have their daily allowance reduced.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime Minister Flanagan said that asylum seekers will pay tax and PRSI and will have the opportunity to benefit from the social welfare system here.

He said that for the initial 12 week transition period, the asylum seeker's personal welfare payment of €21.60 will be maintained.

"I felt that it was appropriate that we would have a transition period. So the payment that's made by the State to applicants will continue for a period of 12 weeks.

"Once they're part of the system, once they're paid their salary, their wages, like every other worker they will have the opportunity to benefit from our social welfare system but will correspondingly pay tax."

At present, asylum seekers are not eligible to apply for a driving licence due to the requirement to have an Irish residence permit. Mr Flanagan has brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

It was also announced today that the health and education provisions will be improved for all asylum seekers.

The Government's plans to allow asylum seekers to work follows a Supreme Court judgment in 2017, which found that an absolute ban on the right to seek employment for asylum seekers, where there was no time limit in the decision making process, was unconstitutional.

The Government subsequently adopted an EU directive covering the area.