'I could not tempt my former staff back to work'
A RESTAURATEUR who has sought seasonal staff for the past five years says he has never received an application from an unemployed person.
This year Paul Treyvaud, who owns and runs Treyvaud's restaurant in Killarney, Co Kerry, with his brother Mark, has decided he'll have to manage without hiring extra staff.
He says he cannot afford the wages prospective employees receiving welfare now expect.
He claims the welfare system provides an incentive to put his core staff on a three-day week during the winter, a move he has avoided until now.
Mr Treyvaud is one of a number of employers who yesterday spoke out supporting the findings of an ESRI report that claimed thousands of families would fare better on the dole.
"As employers, there's an incentive for us to put our staff on a part-time basis and they would get social welfare allowances for the other four days," he says.
"Over the last four or five years when I looked to employ people for the summer, I've never had a single application from someone who was unemployed and that's because they're better off on social welfare."
Businessman George Mordaunt has had difficulty recruiting three former employees he was forced to lay off when the economy crashed.
"I could not tempt them back to work because they didn't feel it made any sense to work for €10 per hour, and we're going beyond the minimum wage," says Mr Mordaunt, managing director of the Mordaunt Group car dealership in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
And staff working 21 hours a week oppose any increase in their hours because they would lose benefits.
Mr Mordaunt, author of 'Shepherd's Pie: Family Business, Recession and Recovery' based on his own experiences, says the ESRI report is "on the money" as regards what's happening on the ground.
"We also have a situation where we have guys who have secured medical cards and are also working for cash elsewhere and that's topping them up."
Mr Mordaunt says unemployed people could be enticed back to work with a partnership between the Department of Social Protection, the unemployed person and the business community.
"Everybody should lose the automatic right to social welfare after a certain point of time and be required to seek a sponsor, or a business that would take them on," he suggests.
The department would pay a proportion of welfare payments directly to the employer or sponsor who would top up the payment.
After a certain amount of time, the department would reduce its support while the sponsor would increase theirs.
The business would be exempt from any PRSI and offered a 1pc rebate on VAT for the period the person remained employed, with the support ending after 36 months.
Mr Mordaunt believes the unemployment situation can only reverse when incentives are put in place to employ staff without huge cost.