Social welfare legislation provides that a person must satisfy the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work in order to be entitled to jobseeker’s benefit. Any person who fails to satisfy these conditions is not entitled to a jobseeker’s benefit payment.
Part-time fire-fighters are entitled to a jobseeker’s benefit payment in respect of days that they are engaged in fire-fighting or training. They are, however, required to satisfy the statutory conditions for the receipt of a jobseeker’s payment of being available for and genuinely seeking work. In this respect, Deciding Officers do not treat them differently to any other jobseeker’s benefit claimant.
The requirement that retained fire-fighters reside and work within a 1.5 mile radius and within a 5 minute response time of the fire station of their brigade may, subject to the circumstances of an individual case, unreasonably restrict the location where s/he can accept work and limit his/her prospects of obtaining work. It is a matter for Deciding Officers to make a decision based on the circumstances of each case.
My Department is currently examining the position of these workers vis-à-vis the jobseeker’s schemes and the unusual circumstances of retained fire brigade personnel. As part of this process officials in my Department are also in discussions with their counterparts from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government concerning this issue. Deliberations in relation to the position of these workers are on-going and final decisions have not been made with regard to potential changes to existing arrangements.