My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social Protection. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation
I can confirm that my Department received a statutory redundancy lump sum claim in respect of the individual concerned on 24 November, 2010. This claim awaits processing.
In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, in general, claims dating from May 2010 are currently being processed. Of course in some instances, where the necessary supporting documentation for lump sum claims is not provided to my Department, or where queries arise, processing of claims can be further delayed until the required documentation is provided and/or outstanding queries are resolved.
My Department continues to make every effort to reduce processing times. Measures already taken in the Department to alleviate the pressures on the Payments area include:
almost doubling the number of staff working solely on redundancy payment claims through reassignment to a current level of 52 full time equivalents;
prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in the section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours;
establishment of a special call handling facility in NERA to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses concerned about their payments;
better quality information relating to current processing times on the Department's website;
engagement with the Revenue Commissioners to facilitate the offset of redundancy rebate payments by employers against existing outstanding tax liabilities which those employers owe to the Revenue Commissioners.
Whilst the backlog and waiting times remain at unacceptable levels, improvements are evident. In 2009, my Department processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on the previous year. Furthermore, the level of new claims processed in the first eleven months of 2010 was 70,247 up over 55% on the corresponding 11-month period in 2009 (45,201) and surpassing the total amount of claims processed for the full year 2009. The backlog of claims is decreasing — reducing from its highest level in November 2009 of 43,608 to a level of 25,950 at the end of November 2010 and is on target on have reduced to a level of 25,000 or less by year end.
Responsibility for the payment functions arising under the Redundancy and Insolvency payment schemes is due to be transferred to the Department of Social Protection with effect from 1 January 2011. In transferring the functions between Departments, it is the intention that this will operate seamlessly and without any adverse impact on the service levels being experienced by individuals or the business community awaiting payment of redundancy claims.