Tuesday, 29 November 2022
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Community Employment Schemes
The Deputy will be aware that a final settlement was reached with unions at the end of 2021 to implement a 2008 Labour Court recommendation relating to the provision of a pension scheme for CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who are employed by CE scheme sponsoring organisations. The settlement resolves this long-standing issue through the payment of a once off ex-gratia payment to eligible CE supervisors and assistant supervisors. Some 2,500 people employed by CE schemes going back to 2008 will benefit at an estimated total cost of over €24 million.
Generally, under the terms of this settlement, on reaching retirement age, eligible CE supervisors and assistant supervisors will receive a once off ex-gratia payment in respect of time employed by CE schemes since 2008. People who have already retired since 2008 and who have reached retirement age can now apply for this payment.
Over the past number of months, an administrative and ICT system to accept applications and process payments was put in place within the Department of Social Protection. The first group of ex-gratia applications have been received - these relate to persons who retired since 2008. In total, 624 completed applications have been received to date, with 480 of these processed and ready for payment. The balance are being worked on at present with a view to having them ready for payment as soon as possible.
Following Government approval earlier this month, legislative provisions to provide for these payments have been included in the Social Welfare Budget Bill, which will once enacted facilitate the payment of processed applications. It is my intention that these payments will issue before the Christmas break. Recipients will receive notification when their payments are issuing.
Processing and payment of claims for people who retire during 2023 will continue as they retire and submit their claims.
76. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will provide an update on engagement that she has had with community employment supervisors regarding their employment-related concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [59208/22]
I value the role CE supervisors and assistant supervisors play on over 800 CE schemes in local communities across the country. They support CE participants to get work experience and develop future work opportunities for those who are long term unemployed, while providing essential services to local communities. As the Deputy is aware, CE supervisors and assistant supervisors are not employees of the Department and are not public servants. They are employees of individual schemes. This means that any discussions on employment related matters are complex.
In the role as funder of CE, Department of Social Welfare officials have ongoing engagement with community employment supervisors and their union representatives to discuss operational issues and other matters of common concern.
The Department, as the funder of CE schemes, received correspondence earlier this year from Fórsa and SIPTU seeking a pay increase for CE supervisors and assistant supervisors. The department has been advised in recent days that Fórsa and SIPTU have referred a pay claim to the conciliation service of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The WRC has issued an invite to the Department to take part in a conciliation process.
Any increase in pay rates that would potentially increase the overall cost to the state of funding schemes, or state funded activities in the wider community and voluntary sector, must take into consideration the potential cost to the exchequer. Given these budgetary implications, and the referral of other similar claims to the WRC, the Department is following-up with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, prior to responding to the invite from the WRC.
The Deputy will be aware of the agreement reached at the end of 2021 in settlement of a 2008 Labour Court recommendation on pensions for CE supervisors. The settlement resolves the long-standing issue through the payment of a once off ex-gratia payment to eligible CE supervisors and assistant supervisors. Both unions involved confirmed acceptance of this settlement which will benefit approximately 2,500 people employed by CE schemes going back to 2008. It is estimated to have a total cost of over €24 million.
Following Government approval earlier this month, legislative provisions to provide for these payments are being included in the Social Welfare Budget Bill, which will, once enacted, facilitate the payment of processed ex-gratia applications. It is my intention that these payments will issue before the Christmas break.