Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Questions (12)

Willie Penrose


12. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the eligibility conditions of persons currently on work permits and attached to a singular employer or sector for social assistance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38877/19]

View answer

Oral answers (3 contributions) (Question to Employment)

I invite Deputy Jan O'Sullivan to introduce Question No. 12.

This question was highlighted during the recent beef protests when a number of low-wage workers in beef processing plants, some of whom were from non-EU countries, found themselves losing their employment. The question is designed to get clarity on exactly what the rights of those workers are.

Establishing an entitlement to a social welfare payment is contingent on a person satisfying the qualifying conditions of the relevant scheme.

In the case of most means-tested payments that arise from the Department, it includes a requirement to be habitually resident in the country. The term "habitually resident" means that a person has to have his or her "centre of interest" in Ireland. The term also conveys permanence; that is that a person has been here for some time and intends to stay here. It is a definition used in some of the schemes sought in the past number of weeks.

As the Deputy will be aware, eligibility for employment permits is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, who has just sat beside me. However, people on non-EU work permits who lose their job may be eligible for jobseeker’s benefit, subject to satisfying all of the qualifying conditions, including the PRSI contribution requirements. We ensure they get those entitlements. Those who do not have enough PRSI contributions to qualify for jobseeker’s benefit can apply for jobseeker’s allowance where other conditions apply, including a means test and the requirement to be habitually resident. Any claim for jobseeker’s allowance in the case of involuntary short-term lay-offs represents a transient need for support. We look after that slightly differently and there are different conditions. The main aim with the specific cases raised by the Deputy was to get our teams to ensure that if a person qualified for an existing scheme, the payment was made. If that was not the case, we tried our level best to look after the person in the interim.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.