How the system works
WHEN someone loses their job, they can apply for Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) from the State which is worth up to €188 per week.
Since October 2008, JB can be paid for a maximum of 12 months to people who have at least 260 paid contributions whilst working or for nine months for those who had made less than 260 contributions.
When the JB runs out, the individual moves onto Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) which is means-tested and your means must be below a certain level to qualify. Savings are taken into account and if married, your spouse's income is also taken into account.
If you get part-time or casual work you may still be paid a proportion of your JA. However, you must show that you are trying to get full-time employment.
To be eligible for the JA you must be available for work and "actively looking for work".
"You may be asked to show that you are actively seeking work," according to the criteria set down.
"For example, letters showing job applications or failure to get a job."
An individual can be regarded as making themselves unavailable for work if they put "unreasonable restrictions" on a number of criteria including the hours of work, rate of pay, location of employment and the nature of the employment.
The Social Welfare Act 2010 states that "a person shall be disqualified from receiving jobseeker's benefit where he or she has refused an offer of suitable employment." This also applies to JA and came into force a short time ago.
However the Department of Social Protection (DSP) admitted last night that there is no system in place for policing this. Currently employers do not have to provide details of those who have refused work, and nor does the DSP contact employers to ask if anyone has refused a job offer.
Neither does the deciding officer keep note of the jobs the claimants applies for to follow up whether employment was offered.