Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Covid-19 (Taoiseach): Statements


12:55 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)

I acknowledge that this is a very real problem and one that we want to solve. Women who went on maternity leave and are now due to return to work want to be able to avail of the wage subsidy scheme and we want them to be able to avail of it as well. I do not need to direct the Minister to do anything about this. He is already working on it. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners are working on a solution. Identifying a problem is much easier than coming up with a solution. The problem is not quite as the Deputy described it. This issue affects women who went on maternity leave and were taken off the payroll. There are different cohorts. Some were not taken off the payroll and they can avail of the wage subsidy scheme, which the Deputy did not mention in her contribution.

The ones who cannot are those who were taken off the payroll by their employer and were not on it on 29 February.

This means there are other groups who also need to be considered, potentially people who are on parental leave or paternity leave and people who were on a leave of absence or career break. When one identifies a problem, one has to come up with a solution and also consider all the new problems one may create and try to think of those solutions as well. As is so often the case, it is not as simple as the stroke of the pen the Deputy often claims it is to resolve issues like this. The Minister for Finance is working on it with the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Finance, and if we come up with a solution, we will inform the House of it and implement it as soon as we possibly can.

On childcare, the Deputy will be aware that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, was in the Chamber only yesterday outlining her plans to reopen the childcare sector. The plan is to do so on a phased basis from the end of June. That requires a number of things, including consultation with the sector, which is now very much under way, but also examining how it is being done in other jurisdictions, and that is under way as well.


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