asked the Minister for Social Welfare if having regard to the number of inquiries made to his Department by employers who operate supplementary sick-pay schemes, regarding the amount of disability benefit payable to insured persons (a) he will state if any instructions have been issued to discontinue the provision of such information and (b) if he will inform county councils and health authorities that they should accept a statement of eligibility from their employees applying for sick pay allowing for any adjustments to be made subsequently; and if he will send a copy of the booklet S. W. 4 to each of these local authorities.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Sick-Pay Schemes.
When the number of employers operating sick-pay schemes was small my Department was able to meet, with the consent of the beneficiaries concerned, requests for information regarding disability benefit payments in individual cases. With the extension of these schemes, the number of requests became so great that the provision of the required information had to be generally discontinued because of the amount of work involved and in order to avoid possible delays in paying disability benefit. However, should any special difficulty arise in a particular case my Department would, of course, be prepared to assist in resolving it.
I have no function in relation to the administration of sick-pay schemes by county councils or health authorities. Copies of the booklet S. W. 4 containing up-to-date information regarding rates of disability benefit and conditions of eligibility are supplied to all local authorities.
Is the Minister aware that serious difficulties have arisen because local authorities will not pay sick pay until they get verification of the amount of social welfare benefits payable to the sick employee? Is the Minister not prepared to discuss this matter with his colleagues in order to find out whether a general direction could be given to the local authorities concerned enabling them to accept the information given by the employees themselves until such time as verification could be submitted?
The local authorities should have no problem at all in arriving at what it would be equitable to deduct from the sick benefit, making allowances for further adjustment later on, if necessary.
The local authorities insist there is a problem. In order to overcome the difficulties would the Minister talk to his colleagues in the Departments of Local Government and Health?
The Minister for Local Government is most co-operative.