The primary social welfare schemes available to individuals who have been laid off as a result of current layoffs inn the meat processing industry are Jobseekers Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance. Both schemes are administered through my Department's network of Intreo Centres and Social Welfare Branch Offices throughout the country.
Payment of Jobseekers Benefit and Assistance is contingent on a person satisfying the qualifying conditions. A principal requirement for entitlement to Jobseekers Benefit or Assistance is that an individual must be able to demonstrate his or her availability for full-time employment. In consideration of this condition, any factor which would place an unreasonable restriction on the acceptance of an offer of suitable employment would lead to the claim being disallowed.
Deciding Officers have been advised that non-EU nationals who are employed under work permits issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and who are in a situation of involuntary unemployment due to the on-going effects of meat factory protests are considered to be available for employment.
My Department is advising all affected meat factory employees to make a claim for a jobseekers payment regardless of their work / employment permit status. Each claim will be decided in light of the facts of the situation and the particular circumstances of each individual. If they have not done so already, affected employees should contact their local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. Dedicated arrangements have been made to ensure that claims are processed in a timely manner once all supporting documentation is available. To date approximately 1,700 claims have been received. Of these 1,080 have been decided with only 8 claims having been disallowed.
Customers on non-EU work permits who satisfy the other conditions for receipt of Jobseekers Benefits, including having a satisfactory contribution record, can be paid Jobseekers Benefit.
Customers who do not have enough PRSI contributions can apply for Jobseekers Allowance where other conditions apply, including Habitual Residence and satisfying a means test. Any claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance in the case of involuntary short-term lay-offs represents a transient need for support and will be treated as such.
In the absence of entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance, supports may also be available under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.
I hope that clarifies the matter for the Deputy.