Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Maternity Benefit

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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1280. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the benefits a person (details supplied) who is due to go on maternity leave in July 2020 and is at present on jobseeker's allowance can apply for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6732/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) is an emergency payment of €350 per week introduced by the Government for a 12 week period and intended to compensate those workers whose employers cannot retain them on their payroll.  The payment is also being made to people who are self-employed but whose trade has temporarily ceased.

One of the eligibility requirements for the payment is that a person must have been in employment on or after 6 March 2020 and lost their employment due to COVID-19.

I am advised that the person in question made an application for PUP on 31 March 2020 indicating her last day of employment was 1 January 2020.  She is therefore ineligible for the payment.

I am further advised that the person in question is not eligible for Maternity Benefit as she does not satisfy the PRSI contributions requirement.

The person in question is currently in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance from my Department.  In the absence of any complications of pregnancy or other illness, a pregnant woman who is not entitled to Maternity Benefit satisfies the condition of being capable of work for the purpose of Jobseeker's Allowance.

Where a person of any age is experiencing financial hardship they can apply for financial support through the means tested Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme from my department. 

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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1282. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the benefits available to mothers who are due to go on maternity leave and will not be entitled to maternity benefit due to the fact they work seasonally and will not be in insurable employment up to the day of their maternity leave due to Covid-19 and who are not entitled to the Covid-19 payment as a result of not being working on the relevant dates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6773/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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Maternity benefit is a payment made for 26 weeks to employed and self-employed pregnant women who satisfy certain pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.  In order to qualify for maternity benefit, a person must be in employment immediately before the first day of her maternity leave.  The last day of insurable employment must be within 16 weeks of the end of the week in which her baby is due.  If a woman satisfies these conditions and ceases employment within this 16 week timeframe, payment of maternity benefit can commence from the following day.

Where an individual is not in employment within the 16 week timeframe or has insufficient social insurance contributions to qualify for maternity benefit, they may be eligible for another social welfare payment provided they meet the relevant conditions, including jobseekers.  

The conditions of the emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment are that a person must have lost their employment and income following the onset of the Covid19 pandemic.  It would be impossible to construct a scheme based on claims of potential or prospective but unrealised employment, particularly in an environment where the economy was operating at full-employment with many unfilled vacancies prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 It is open to any person experiencing financial hardship to apply for assistance through the means tested Supplementary Welfare Allowance.  Information on the various income supports is available at www.gov.ie.

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

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