Thursday, 7 February 2019
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
253. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if arrangements will be put in place to allow persons over 65 years of age who are claiming jobseeker's benefit who wish to go on holiday abroad for more than two weeks to claim the payment for the full period they are abroad when they return in view of the fact that this cohort are no longer required to engage with the compulsory activation process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6136/19]
There is no legally mandated retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers. While such a contract may have been entered into with a retirement date of 65, in the context of the previous State pension arrangements, an employer and employee may agree to increase the duration of employment if both parties wish to do so.
Where this is not possible, there are specific measures which apply to someone claiming jobseeker’s benefit from a date after their 65th birthday. Where qualified, these recipients may continue to be eligible for that payment until reaching pension age.
Ordinarily, those in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment must engage with the Department’s activation process and can face penalty rates if they refuse to engage with offers of training or education. These criteria were eased for people aged 62 and over. However, they can still avail voluntarily of an array of supports, which are available from my Department if they wish to return to work, training or education.
Generally a person is disqualified from receiving social protection payments while absent from the State unless there are specific exemptions provided for in the legislation. There is an exemption from the absent from the State provisions for jobseeker’s benefit recipients which allows jobseekers continue to receive payment for a period up to two weeks for the purpose of taking a holiday abroad.
While customers aged 62 years and over are not obliged to engage with activation in the same way as other recipients, they must continue to satisfy the statutory qualifying conditions of the scheme in order to retain entitlement to an unemployment payment including residency in the State. It is essential to the sustainability and integrity of the jobseeker schemes that these criteria remain a core feature of the State’s supports for the unemployed. Any change in this regard for a particular cohort would be inequitable vis-à-vis the treatment of other unemployed people.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.