FLAC welcomes the clarification of ‘genuinely seeking work’ criteria for Covid PUP recipients who have been temporarily laid off.
10 December 2020
FLAC CE Eilis Barry has today welcomed the introduction of two new Social Welfare regulations which address some of FLAC’s concerns and recommendations in relation to the Covid Pandemic Unemployment Payment (“PUP”)
The new regulations state that a person will not be required to seek employment outside that occupation or employment for the period of 12 months after first claiming the Covid PUP where:
- a person’s opportunity to work in their normal occupation is temporarily limited and they have a reasonable expectation of returning to that occupation, or
- a person has a reasonable expectation of returning to their former employment,
FLAC first raised concerns about this issue this summer, following the introduction of ‘genuinely seeking work’ criteria for PUP recipients in the Social Welfare (Covid-19) (Amendment) Act 2020. FLAC also raised these concerns in a submission to the Oireachtas Social Protection Committee and in a submission and appearance before the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response. FLAC highlighted how it is unreasonable to expect those who have been temporarily laid-off (and have every expectation of resuming their employment) to seek work. The new regulations specifically address FLAC’s concerns in this regard.
FLAC also campaigned for greater transparency in decision-making related to access to the PUP. In that regard, FLAC welcomes the additional new regulation which provides that, where a decision for a claim for the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment is not approved, the claimant must be provided with a reasoned written decision.
Ms Barry commented today:
“FLAC welcomes the introduction of these regulations after repeated calls from our organisation. These regulations provide the requisite clarity and will assure people who have been temporarily laid off because of the pandemic that they are entitled to the PUP payment.”
FLAC continues to campaign for the introduction of regulations allowing PUP claimants to take holidays abroad (in line with other social welfare payments and as promised by the Minister in July), for clarity as to how residents in Direct Provision can access PUP arrears, for an independent review of social welfare checks conducted at airports during the pandemic and for the Department to accept that claimants for social welfare payments can ‘genuinely seek work’ while advised to self-isolate. FLAC also continues to call for the removal of section 3 of the Finance Bill 2020 (which proposes to retrospectively introduce a tax liability on claims for the PUP.)
Notes to Editor
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an Irish human rights organisation, which exists to promote equal access to justice. As an NGO, FLAC relies on a combination of statutory funding, contributions from the legal professions and donations from individuals and grant-making foundations to support its work.
FLAC offers basic legal information through its telephone information line (1890 350 250). Free legal advice is available from volunteer lawyers through a countrywide network of advice clinics (these clinics are currently conducted over the phone) – more at www.flac.ie/help/. FLAC provides legal representation in a small number of cases in the public interest. FLAC provides legal advice directly to members of both the Roma Community and The Irish Traveller Community via specialist legal clinics. FLAC engages in policy work in areas of law that most impact on disadvantaged groups and including consumer credit, personal debt, and fairness in social welfare law, public interest law and civil legal aid. It operates the public interest law project PILA.
The two new regulations highlighted above can be found here
FLAC also raised this issue in FLAC’s Submission to Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands’ Review of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) Scheme.
FLAC sent a letter, on 28 July 2020, to Minister Humphreys detailing our concerns with the sanctions placed on Social Welfare Recipients travelling abroad. This letter is available on our website at https://www.flac.ie/publications/flac-letter-to-minister-humphreys/