My Department has been designing a new model of externally provided public employment services since 2019. This is required to comply with the legal obligation to ensure such services are procured through a competitive process. For almost three and half years, extensive consultation with existing providers and representative bodies, including the Irish Local Development Network and trade unions, has taken place. My Department has worked to ensure that existing providers are in a position to compete for the provision of these new employment services. This involved a two-phase approach. The first phase involved running a limited competition in four geographic areas that did not already have local employment services. Then, using the lessons learned from this process, we fine-tuned the request for tenders in phase 2. Having taken on board the lessons learned, phase 2 includes an increase in the number of lots, greater emphasis on community linkages and, most important, a substantially increased minimum level of referrals for each lot. The increase in referrals means the annual income under the new model should exceed the existing cost base of all LES and job clubs operating in each lot. Therefore, any existing provider which successfully bids for a service should at least match and in some cases exceed its current income. The need for redundancies in such circumstance would clearly not be warranted.
The procurement for the new Intreo partners local area employment services will take time to conclude. My Department has therefore offered an extension of contracts to existing LES and job clubs until the end of August. To date, the vast majority of providers have accepted this offer. However, a very small number of providers have declined the offer, which is at their discretion, and they will communicate their decision and rationale to their staff. In circumstances where existing providers choose not to bid for these service or are unsuccessful I would expect that, as a first option, providers should look to redeploy any staff affected to other functions within their organisations.
However, where this is not possible, and if these employers are unable to finance redundancy payments, then my Department's redundancy and insolvency service will, in accordance with the governing legislation, be able to make provision for statutory redundancy payments.