Thursday, 19 March 2020
An Bille Sláinte (Caomhnú agus Cosaint agus Bearta Éigeandála Eile Ar Mhaithe Le Leas an Phobail), 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
I am taking on another Department and learning as I go. One does not require a public services card at this time due to the exceptional nature of what we are going through with people accessing these payments. A person who is self-employed can apply for these supports without showing he or she has permanently shut down his or her business because as the Deputy said, he or she may only be out work for a brief period of time.
On the issue of pensioners, Deputy O'Dea raised a valid point. The Department tells me that as of now there is no change to the scenario for pensioners and people collect their pensions as planned or they nominate a person to collect it for them. With the evolving public health situation, it is prudent to adopt the Deputy's suggestion to keep that under review. The advice to older people is clear and not every older person may have a nominated person to collect his or her pension. We will keep that under review but there is no change as of now. The Deputy's point merits serious consideration.
I refer to employers who decide to pay their employees. Many people will want to keep that good interdependent relationship between employers and employees going through what we hope is a sharp and short-term economic crisis but one that we will hopefully rebound from as a country. Employers can access the refund scheme and we are encouraging them to retain their employees where possible. Where an employer pays a payment to a worker, it can recoup €203 of that per week.
As the Deputy knows, this is an evolving situation and people are working very hard to put measures in place but the Covid-19 employer refund scheme is in place thanks to the co-operation of the Revenue Commissioners.