Unemployed miss out on casual work
Thousands of unemployed people are missing out on the possibility of casual work that could lead to longer-term employment opportunities because of concerns it would take months to regain their benefits if they had to return to the dole.
Such is the extent of this new phenomenon that the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, has moved to assure unemployed workers that they will not lose key benefits if they take on casual employment during the pre-Christmas season.
The lift in the high street market during the festive period means that a huge number of vacancies become available, particularly in the retail sector.
However, the Department of Social Protection has become aware that some unemployed people are not availing of the opportunity for short-term casual Christmas work for fear of losing their entitlements for a prolonged period of time when the work ceases.
The complex procedure and delays involved in signing on and off the register, which on occasions can take months, are believed to be a major factor in dole beneficiaries failing to seek out temporary work opportunities.
The Department of Social Protection, however, confirmed that, while it was normal practice for their benefit claim to be closed when a job-seeker finds work, in cases "where the person is taking up a short period of temporary work up to four weeks or training of up to eight weeks, arrangements are in place to simplify the process of signing off and back on".
In these cases, instead of closing the claim, the social welfare local office temporarily suspends payment for the duration of the work or training and where the person signs on again, the claim can be reactivated very quickly and payment restored within a few days.
The department did, however, also note that it was important for the person to make clear to their social welfare office in advance that the work was expected to last for a short period of time.