About 35 employers have contacted the Department of Social Protection over the last fortnight with concerns about staff who were receiving the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) being reluctant to return to work.
The Department of Social Protection said on Monday that there was clear evidence “that the vast majority of people want to, and will take up employment, once it is available to them”.
It said it noted the concerns expressed recently regarding employers facing difficulties in re-hiring staff. However it said experience from 2020 showed that about 400,000 people closed their PUP claim once the economy partially re-opened.
It again said that employers who faced difficulties in re-hiring staff could notify it and it would follow-up on the cases concerned.
The Department of Social Protection said it had “received reports from 17 employers last week and from 18 employers the previous week, stating that they were experiencing difficulties in getting staff to return to work”.
The Irish Times reported last week that the Department of Social Protection had 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. It said the vast majority of these cases did not involve mis-claiming.
It said that “last year when the restrictions were eased, issues such as child care and changes to terms of employment, including reduced hours were raised as some of the factors which prevented a small proportion of PUP recipients from returning to work”.
At its peak in late April/early May last year there were about 600,000 people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment.
Separately the Department of Social Protection said on Tuesday that there were about 13,500 fewer people receiving the PUP this week compared to last week. Over 363,000 people will receive the payment this week. This is in addition to the 177,969 people who were on the Live Register at the end of April.
The Department of Social Protection said over 8,900 staff working in hairdressing and beauty salons had closed their PUP claims to return to work as well as 4,739 in wholesale and retail and just over 3,000 in construction.
“The past seven days saw 25,920 people close their PUP claim stating that they were doing so because they are returning to work. Dublin had the greatest number of people closing their claims to return to work (6,578), followed by Cork (2,987) and Galway (1,408).”
The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said:
“As the PUP is paid weekly in arrears, the full impact of the re-opening of sectors such as retail will not be evident for a number of weeks to come. “
“However, all the indications are that people are returning to work in large numbers with almost 26,000 closing their PUP in the past week.”