Job Initiative (JI) is an employment support scheme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities.
The Department of Social Protection provides financial support in the form of allowances and funding to assist with the Job Initiative, for example participant wages, team leader grants and material grants.
Participants are employed and paid weekly by the JI managing agent and have certain statutory employment rights including annual leave, maternity leave and public holidays. Participants work on a full-time basis of 39 hours per week.
Several Social Welfare payment increases were announced in Budget 2022. The JI rate was increased by €10 in Budget 2022. The current rate for JI participants is €461.00 for 39 hours per week and equates to €11.82 per hour, which is above the current minimum wage of €10.50 per hour.
The Low Pay Commission makes recommendations to my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to set a minimum wage that is fair and sustainable. In 2021, the Low Pay Commission was requested to examine the Programme for Government commitment to progress to a living wage over the lifetime of the Government and to make recommendations on the best approach to achieving this commitment. Following this request, the Low Pay Commission commissioned a team of researchers at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth to conduct supporting research on the living wage. The terms of reference for this research include a consideration of the policy, social and economic implications of a move to a living wage and the process by which Ireland could progress towards it.
This research report was recently received by the Low Pay Commission. Informed by its findings, the Low Pay Commission is due to make recommendations to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on the progression to a living wage before the end of Q1 2022.
My Department acknowledges the valuable and dedicated service that JI team leaders and JI participants provide in delivering local based community services. The Department is fully committed to the future of employment support programmes and will continue to support and improve them for the benefit of the team leaders and participants, given the valuable contribution being made to local communities through the provision of services.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.