POLITICS: Seasonal and part time workers are having difficulty accessing their social welfare entitlements, according to Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D.
He said that new rules and regulations from the Department of Social Protection have meant that many part time workers are no longer entitled to Social Protection payments upon ceasing their seasonal employment.
“To make any alterations to seasonal workers’ social welfare entitlements is wrong and demonstrates a poor understanding of how rural life and the livelihoods of many families survive in coastal and farming communities,” stated Pat the Cope.
The Fianna Fail TD for Donegal, in a written submission to his party, has proposed that the daily subsidiary income from a secondary income be raised from the present €12.70 a day to €50 a day, so that those workers with secondary income other than the part time employment can qualify for Jobseekers’ Benefit.
He also proposed that the eligible number of contributions for a seasonal worker be calculated over a five year period instead of the present three years. This would allow seasonal workers to demonstrate that they have worked each year and made the necessary 20 contributions per annum instead of the present 39 contributions each year over three years.
Very few seasonal workers at present would be able to make the required 39 contributions per annum, Pat the Cope said, and they are being excluded from the protection of social welfare when their seasonal job ceases due to this rule.
He proposed that seasonal and part time workers also be allowed to transfer from one claim to another easily, providing they demonstrate the five year contributions made by seasonal employment. Every single alteration to eligibility criteria for seasonal workers has made it more and more impossible for them to obtain Social Welfare, he stated.
He said that unless changes to the present social welfare system are made by the Government in Budget 2017, many factories and business who function with seasonal and part time workers will find it extremely difficult to source skilled labour.
Many of these workers have made a major contribution to the country for 20 or more years, and the Deputy stated that “the very least we can do as a country is reward the people who seek out and obtain employment, and that very much includes seasonal and part time workers.”