Unemployment support to be linked to time spent working, says minister
Job-seeker support is set to incorporate a pay-related element under proposals being brought to Cabinet.
Under plans developed by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys, people who lose their jobs will be entitled to more than the current weekly 220 euro full rate in the initial months after they are made redundant.
The payments will then reduce on a sliding scale.
Ms Humphreys is also proposing a pension contribution for carers who have given up work to spend 20 or more years looking after a vulnerable loved one.
The minister said the measures, which will be brought to Cabinet on Tuesday, would be funded by an already agreed increase in PRSI rates.
Ms Humphreys said Ireland was an “outlier” in Europe in not having a pay-related linkage to unemployment support.
“What I’m proposing is that if you find yourself unemployed, that you will get a payment that is commensurate with the length of time you’ve been working,” the minister told reporters as she attended the Irish Men’s Sheds Association in Virginia, Co Cavan.
“Particularly, we’ve seen a number of redundancies recently, where you had workers on salaries of possibly 800 or 900 euros and they found themselves on a flat rate payment of 220 euros which is the payment for everybody across the board.
“So I want to change that because I think it is a fairer system that those who have paid all their life, who have worked all their lives, to find themselves in the awkward position where they have lost a job, that they would get an enhanced benefit.”
The minister added: “I’m also bringing forward legislation to provide pensions for carers who have looked after their loved ones for more than 20 years.
“And this particularly applies to mothers who have looked after children with severe disabilities and have found themselves that they had to give up work. And now we’re going to make provision so that they will get a pension when they retire.
“How it’s going to work is that if you have been caring for more than 20 years for a disabled family member, that you will get credits for all of the years that you did that work, and then you will automatically be entitled to a contributory pension based on the years of care.”
Ms Humphreys said there were existing measures in place to support those carers who had been without employment for less than 20 years.
“They are already being taken care of through the system that we have,” she said.
“So what I want to do tomorrow is to look at the long-term carers who have been caring all their lives.”