Under the programme my Department provides funding for local sponsoring organisations to provide training, upskilling and educational opportunities for jobseekers and other vulnerable groups in the community.
This funding is granted under an annually renewable legal agreement/contract between the sponsoring organisation and the Department. Article 3 of the agreement/contract states that, “The Sponsor shall at all times be an independent contractor for all purposes and the relationship of principal and agent shall not exist between the parties and all persons recruited by the sponsor shall be their/her/his sole responsibility.” The supervisor is legally in the employment of the local sponsoring organisation. Their contracts of employment list the sponsor as the employer. They are not employees of my Department, nor are they public servants.
The focus on the development of individuals on schemes is captured by the supervisor in the Individual Learner Plan for each participant and this must be available for inspection by the Department as required along with the necessary back up documentation. With this in mind, the Department provides funding for the employment of supervisors on a 39 hour week basis to provide adequate time to the sponsoring organisation to provide the necessary supports for the daily management of the scheme.
The Deputy will appreciate that robust controls and monitoring are required to ensure that public monies are being spent in an effective and efficient manner. In this regard there are at least two monitoring visits carried out by the Department to a scheme on an annual basis – financial monitoring and programme monitoring to ensure compliance with the CE operational procedures. The scheme itself has no paperwork to complete. The monitoring form is completed by officials from the Department.
As the deputy is aware, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) have taken the lead in addressing the entitlement of CE supervisors to occupational pensions. A Community Sector High Level Forum, chaired by DPER is currently examining this issue. Other Departments including my Department are represented on this group, as are the unions and Pobal and a number of meetings have been held.
While I am very conscious that the issue relates to Community Employment supervisors and assistant supervisors, such individuals comprise of just one small group within the wider Community and Voluntary sector any provision of State funding for such a scheme in respect of those employees could potentially give rise to claims for similar schemes on the part of those in the broader sector, thus crystallising the potential level of liability. Any solution to this issue will require careful consideration, in particular the implications for scarce Exchequer resources.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.