About 3,000 workers on PUP reluctant to return to work

Department of Social Protection says vast majority do not involve misclaiming benefit

The Department of Social Protection has received about 3,000 notifications over the past 14 months from employers about staff who were receiving the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) being reluctant to return to work.

However, it said the vast majority of these cases did not involve mis-claiming of the benefit.

The department would encourage employers “to continue to submit details to us where they come across reluctance of staff to return to work”, it said on Tuesday. It said it would “follow up” with workers’ cases where employers had raised concerns that they could not re-hire staff.

It “noted” the concerns expressed in recent days regarding employers facing difficulties in re-hiring personnel. It said experience from last year showed that about 400,000 people closed their PUP claim once the economy partially reopened.

“This is clear evidence that the vast majority of people want to, and will take up employment, once it is available to them.”

However, the department said any employer who faced difficulties in re-hiring staff could notify it at C19employerreports@welfare.ie, it would “follow up with the workers concerned”.

An employer reporting facility was established by the department in March 2020 to enable employers to notify it regarding staff not willing to return to work while they continued to claim pandemic unemployment payments. It said most of the 3,000 reports were “received after the restrictions were lifted following the lockdown last year and the vast majority of these did not involve mis-claiming”.

At its peak at the end of April/early May last year there were about 600,000 people receiving PUP.

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment reduced by more than 8,500 over the past week, the Department of Social Protection said.

It said on Tuesday there were 376,665 people receiving the payment this week. This is in addition to the 177,969 people who were on the Live Register at the end of April. Over the past seven days 12,245 people closed their PUP on the basis that they were returning to work.

Construction industry

The department said the construction sector had seen the largest decrease in the number of people receiving pandemic unemployment payment this week, down 2,774 compared with last week.

It said the sector with the highest number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment this week were in accommodation and food service activities which had 98,124 receiving the benefit, followed by the wholesale and retail trade (62,115) and construction sector (34,663).

About 3,300 people in Dublin closed their PUP claims to return to work, as did 1,269 in Cork and more than 660 in Kildare.

The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: "This week, the country took a big step forward in terms of reopening our economy and society.

“The reopening of sectors of our economy is resulting in more people going back to work.

“There are 8,500 fewer people receiving a pandemic unemployment payment today and that number is expected to fall further in the coming weeks, as industries like retail and hospitality reopen.”