Hours-based system for part-time jobseeker’s payments would be more equitable and fairer
Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education Report
15th May 2012
An hours-based system for part-time jobseeker’s payments would be much fairer and more equitable, according to a new report by the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education.
The current system, which is based on a number of days worked per week, disenfranchises a number of part-time workers from jobseeker’s payments, the report A Review of the Status of Casual Workers in Ireland said.
Report author and Committee Member Anthony Lawlor, TD said: “Part-time workers are classified as those who work less hours than their contemporaries. However, this classification fails to define the number of hours ‘less’ refers to. As a consequence, taking into account the three in six day rule, one person could work two twelve hour shifts over two days and be entitled to claim three days benefit, whilst another person could work only two hours over five days and not qualify for benefit. This is clearly unfair due to the changing work patterns in Ireland and the need to bring people back into the workforce. Consequently this discrepancy needs to be addressed.”
The report recommends that part-time work should be defined as working 24 or less hours per week. It also proposes that the Part Time Jobs Incentive Scheme should be more widely advertised and eligibility for the scheme reduced from 15 months to 11 months.
Any change to the system should not have a negative knock-on effect on an individual’s entitlement to other supports, according to the report. It recommends that a concerted effort is made from governmental level to inform unemployed people of their entitlements if they re-enter the workforce and reassure the public that their financial circumstances may not be adversely affected by returning to part-time work.
Among the reports other key findings are:
· Any changes to the system must be revenue neutral.
· Employers must be incentivised to take on part-time workers by highlighting the advantages, both from an economic and social perspective, of doing so.
· A streamlined, online process for logging hours worked by a person in receipt of unemployment benefit is recommended.
· The report recommends that part-time workers in receipt of unemployment benefit will continue to prove that they are actively seeking and available for work.
Deputy Lawlor said: “Those who are unemployed and on the Live Register should not be discouraged from seeking part-time work and should not feel that it is more of a benefit to them to remain entirely unemployed and receive social welfare than to engage in part-time work. It is vital for Ireland to have a fair and equitable system in regards to those who are unemployed and want to re-enter the workforce by seeking part-time employment. However, such a change to the system must be done on a relatively revenue neutral basis without having an overall negative impact on the Live Register figures.
With so many people unemployed, we should be encouraging people to try to enter the workforce, even if it is only part-time work. By going ahead with the reforms suggested in this report, we will be taking a step towards improving the standard of living of jobseekers and creating a fairer and equitable social welfare system.”
Download the report [PDF file].
Committee Member Anthony Lawlor discusses the report in the below video: