Retained fire-fighters who are otherwise unemployed are entitled to a jobseeker’s payment in respect of days that they are engaged in fire-fighting or training, subject to the usual qualification conditions in relation to means or social insurance contributions. They are also required to satisfy the statutory conditions for the receipt of a jobseeker’s payment of being available for and genuinely seeking full-time work.
Taking account of the unusual circumstances of retained fire personnel, the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 carried amendments to both jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance that put the treatment of retained fire fighters on a legislative basis.
These amendments were introduced with particular regard to the vital service provided by this group, particularly in rural communities where the fire service is almost exclusively staffed by retained personnel.
The legislation now provides that, when a retained fire fighter is on call, this will not result in a disallowance for a jobseeker’s payment on grounds of availability.
However, all retained firefighters in receipt of a Jobseeker’s payment must engage with my Department’s activation processes, including those delivered through JobPath. Customers referred to activation services who are retained fire-fighters will have all activities including meetings with their personal advisor scheduled around their firefighter commitments and the case officer will be flexible in the provision of the service in that respect.
Activation is intended to be a positive experience tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of the jobseeker, with the aim of his / her progressing to suitable, sustainable full-time employment.