Written answers

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Social Welfare Payments

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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142. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she is taking to address the barriers for individuals applying for parent’s benefit including digital literacy issues, necessity for a public services card to apply via MyGovID.ie and attendant difficulties in accessing paper application forms for applicants who are unable to apply online. [15506/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Parents leave and benefit was introduced in 2019 and is available to parents of new babies born or children adopted from 1st November 2019. This benefit covers five weeks' paid leave from employment/self-employment for each parent within the first two years of the child’s life or adoption, which can be taken as either consecutive weeks or in one-week blocks in order to provide the family with full flexibility. This benefit is in addition to existing maternity, adoptive and paternity benefit entitlements.

Provision was made in Budget 2022 to increase the number of weeks of Parents Leave and Benefit available to eligible parents from five weeks to seven weeks with effect from July 2022. The additional two weeks leave and benefit will apply to parents of children who are under age two years in July 2022 (or adoptive children who have been with their parents for less than two years at that point).

An application for Parents Benefit can be submitted either in paper format or via MyWefare depending on the individual’s preference.

Parents Benefit is one of the many schemes the Department has made available via our online platform and our rationale for doing so was to meet growing customer demand and expectations. The Department is committed to inclusive design, enabling online portals which can be used by all users including those who may have cognitive or physical impairments, such as blindness. This means that our sites, including MyWelfare.ie, can be used with assistive technologies such as screen readers or by using a keyboard for navigation, but also that the design of our sites supports cognitive and visual impairments such as dyslexia, colour blindness or those short of sight, to ensure that for all users there is a smooth journey and experience through our online portals.

In order to access the Department’s services via MyWelfare a customer must complete the SAFE registration process, this is the process through which a person satisfies the Minister as to their identity. Once their identity is verified in this way, they are issued with a Public Services Card which can be used as proof of their identity when dealing with many public service bodies.

The Department continues to promote and increase awareness on the availability of the online claim method through MyWelfare, highlighting the availability of services and the potential for a decision within minutes where all conditions are fulfilled. Approximately 75% of all Parents Benefit claims are made online and over 80% of those which fulfil all eligibility conditions are auto awarded within minutes.

As with any of the Department’s schemes, if a customer does not wish to avail of the online service available a paper application form is available on request by contacting the Parents Benefit section directly.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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