Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (169)

Niall Collins

Question:

169. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on matters raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7528/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

My Department administers over 80 separate schemes and services, which affect the lives of almost every person in the State. The Department is committed to ensuring that members of the public and employers are fully aware of the welfare supports and services that are available to them.

During 2020, the Department ran a number of public information campaigns which encouraged employees to maintain links with their employer and to close their Pandemic Unemployment Payment on their first day back at work. Five such campaigns were undertake between April and December 2020 , in line with the change in restrictions. These public information campaigns spanned national print media, national and reginal radio, as well as across a range of digital and social media channels.

It is important to note that in 2020, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment was placed on a statutory footing as a stand-alone social welfare scheme in accordance with the provisions of the Social Welfare (Covid-19) (Amendment) Act, 2020. The conditions for receipt of this scheme will not be satisfied where a person:

(a) has lost the employment concerned through his or her own misconduct or has voluntarily left his or her employment,

(b) refuses an offer to return to the employment concerned,

(c) has refused an offer of suitable employment

The Department has been in direct contact with a number of business representative organisations to provide information on these requirements, as well as on the process of closing a PUP claim, and arrangements have been put in place by my Department for employers to report an individual who may be mis-claiming a social welfare payment. A dedicated mailbox (c19employerreports@welfare.ie) has been established for this purpose and is monitored by the Departments Control Division who follow up on any reports made by employers.

While the Department had a small number of enquiries from employers in December 2020 about how to manage situations where staff, who were in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, were reluctant to return to work for any number of reasons, these cases were very rare and the vast majority of individuals are happy to return to work.

Furthermore, if any employer is seeking assistance in recruiting for vacant positions, the Department's Employer Relations team are available to help and support them, and can be contacted by email (employer@welfare.ie).

Throughout 2021, the Department will continue to provide important public information in line with any changes in restrictions or related income supports through a variety of channels including formal communications campaigns, stakeholder engagement, and social and digital media.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.