FLAC welcomes clarification of Covid PUP rules

FLAC welcomes clarification of Covid PUP rules

Eilis Barry

Legal rights group FLAC has welcomed the introduction of new social welfare regulations addressing some of their concerns and recommendations in relation to the Covid Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

The new regulations state that a person will not be required to seek employment outside that occupation or employment for the period of 12 months after first claiming the Covid PUP where:

  • a person’s opportunity to work in their normal occupation is temporarily limited and they have a reasonable expectation of returning to that occupation, or
  • a person has a reasonable expectation of returning to their former employment,

FLAC first raised concerns about this issue this summer, following the introduction of ‘genuinely seeking work’ criteria for PUP recipients in the Social Welfare (Covid-19) (Amendment) Act 2020.

The legal rights group also raised these concerns in a submission to the Oireachtas social protection committee and in a submission and appearance before the Oireachtas special committee on Covid-19 response.

It said the new regulations address its concerns that it is unreasonable to expect those who have been temporarily laid-off (and have every expectation of resuming their employment) to seek work.

FLAC also campaigned for greater transparency in decision-making related to access to the PUP and said it welcomes the additional new regulation which provides that, where a decision for a claim for the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment is not approved, the claimant must be provided with a reasoned written decision.

FLAC CEO Eilis Barry said: “FLAC welcomes the introduction of these regulations after repeated calls from our organisation. These regulations provide the requisite clarity and will assure people who have been temporarily laid off because of the pandemic that they are entitled to the PUP payment.”

FLAC continues to campaign for the introduction of regulations allowing PUP claimants to take holidays abroad, for clarity as to how residents in Direct Provision can access PUP arrears, for an independent review of social welfare checks conducted at airports during the pandemic and for the Department to accept that claimants for social welfare payments can ‘genuinely seek work’ while advised to self-isolate.

FLAC also continues to call for the removal of section 3 of the Finance Bill 2020, which proposes to retrospectively introduce a tax liability on claims for the PUP.

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