FÁS has advised that the criteria for participating in the FÁS Community Employment Scheme (CE) are based on age and length of time in receipt of various social welfare payments, and are as follows:
Part-time Integration Option (PTI)
One year version of CE for people aged 25 years and over who are receiving social welfare payments for 12 months or more.
Part-time Job Option (PTJ)
Three year version of CE, (based on annually renewable contracts) for people aged 35 years and over and who are receiving social welfare payments for 3 years or more.
The social welfare payments referred to above are:
Jobseekers Benefit (JB)
Jobseekers Allowance (JA)
One Parent Family Payment (OPFP)
Widows/Widowers Contributory Pension
Widows/Widowers Non-Contributory Pension
Deserted Wife's Benefit (DWB)
Farm Assist (FA)
Time spent in receipt of Carer's Allowance can also count towards the 12-month eligibility period (3 years for PTJ), but caring responsibilities must have ceased and the person must currently be in receipt of either JA, JB or OPFP.
The following are also eligible for participation on CE:
People aged 18 years or over (35 years or over for PTJ) and are currently in receipt of any of Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefit for six months or more
Travellers aged 18 years or over, who are unemployed and in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance for any period (12 months for PTJ) or One Parent Family Payment for 1 year or longer. In the case of Travellers under 18 years of age, a minimum of 12 months spent in a Travellers Training Centre is enough for eligibility
All refugees aged 18 years or over, as authenticated by the Department of Justice and Law Reform, in receipt of payments from the Department of Social Protection
Persons aged 18 years or over inhabiting the offshore islands
Ex-offenders aged 18 years or over (35 years or over for PTJ) and referred by the Probation Service. Also, Ex-offenders aged 18 and over (35 years or over for PTJ) and not referred by the Probation Service and in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit for a period of one year or more (3 years for PTJ). Time spent as a prisoner is regarded as reckonable when considering the duration unemployed
Persons aged 18 years or over referred by the Drugs Task Force.
Time spent on recognised training or employment programmes (such as a FÁS training course) can also be counted towards eligibility. Eligibility to participate on CE for both PTI and PTJ is linked to those in receipt of an Irish social welfare payment. Those persons not meeting the criteria under these options, or who are signing for credits, or receiving social welfare benefits from a different country, are not eligible to participate on CE.
FÁS has advised that, in assessing eligibility for CE, recipients of JA or JB are allowed a maximum of 30 worked days in the 12 months prior to commencing. CE is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis. CE helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.
CE is not designed to cater for short-term unemployed people as they are not as far removed from the open labour market as the main client group for the programme. To facilitate some short-term employment opportunities, breaks off the live register up to 30 days in total (i.e. 30 worked days) are permissible within the 12-month eligibility period, while still maintaining eligibility for CE. The reason for the 30-day live register break rule is to ensure that the programme responds to its primary target group of long-term unemployed clients. Many unemployed people engage in work of a temporary nature. If the programme were open to these individuals, there is a danger that people would leave their employment, albeit of a temporary nature, in order to participate in CE. This would be contrary to the objective of the programme and result in a Labour Market Intervention competing with the open labour market. In circumstances where breaks off the live register exceed 30 days, other interventions may be more appropriate than CE.