Ireland passes bill enhancing unemployment benefits to those with strong work history

Bringing in a major reform, the Irish parliament has passed a bill that will ensure that people with a strong work history receive enhanced benefits if they lose their employment.

The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2024, passed by both Houses of the Oirechtas, will now be presented before the President for signing.

The Bill provides for a new Pay-Related Benefit scheme, which will be available to persons who become fully unemployed after the commencement of the scheme. A commencement order for the introduction of the scheme will be brought in later this year once necessary IT systems have been developed.

Those who lose their job before that date will remain entitled to the existing Jobseeker’s Benefit, said the Department of Social Protection.

Commenting on the bill’s passing, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: “At the moment, when a person who has worked hard for twenty years suddenly loses their job, they receive the same rate of unemployment payment as somebody who might never have worked. That’s not fair.”

“We need to reward the people who have worked hard; paid their dues; and contributed to the economy through their PRSI contributions. That’s what Pay Related Benefit is about,” she added.

Under the scheme, the weekly rate of payment for people who have at least 5 years paid PRSI contributions will be set at 60 per cent of previous earnings, subject to a maximum of €450 for the first three months. The rate will then reduce to 55 per cent of earnings, subject to a maximum of €375 for the following three months. A further 3 months will be paid at the rate of 50 per cent, up to a maximum €300 payment.

For those who have between 2 and 5 years paid contributions, the rate will be set at 50 per cent of previous earnings subject to a maximum for €300 per week and 6 month’s duration.

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