Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
553. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the actions taken to protect jobs at a company (details supplied); if she has spoken with the management of the company regarding safeguarding jobs here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5685/20]
I extend my sympathies to the workers in Debenhams who have lost their jobs and appreciate that the situation is difficult for those directly impacted and their families. I can assure the workers impacted that there are Government supports in place to help them through this time. Neither I nor my Department has had contact with the management of Debenhams.
As the Deputy may be aware, the High Court has appointed joint liquidators of Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Limited. In this context, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I have no statutory power to intervene in a court-supervised liquidation. The liquidation process in this instance will be subject to oversight of the High Court.
My Department has agreed a Job Loss Response Protocol with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Education and Skills. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will lead on this. The protocol puts in place all the efforts to assist the workers. It includes welfare entitlements, job-search assistance and upskilling needs/opportunities.
My colleague Minister Regina Doherty and her Department, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has responsibility for providing support for the workers who have unfortunately lost their jobs due to the closure of the Debenhams Irish stores.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available for all persons who have become unemployed as a result of COVID-19 and is also payable with redundancy. Jobseeker’s Allowance and Benefit are also options for financial aid for those persons now unemployed as a result of the closure of Debenhams Irish stores.
In the case of any concession staff who are self-employed, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment applies if their trading income has collapsed to the extent that they are available to take up other full-time employment if it is offered to them. If a person subsequently applies for Jobseekers Benefit Self-Employed, that claim will be considered separately under the rules of that Scheme.
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is mandated to secure compliance with employment rights legislation and continues to be fully operational and available to any interested parties who may require it. If employees of Debenhams have concerns or complaints regarding their employment rights the Customer Service Section of the WRC provides information in relation to employment, equality and industrial relations rights and obligations, and how to obtain redress where appropriate.