More than 16,000 laid-off workers have applied for the Government’s emergency unemployment payment since Monday — with a huge rise in numbers expected in the coming days.
Concerns about having to post hard copies rather than sending applications electronically have marred the process, with worried workers inundating the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Citizens Information Board, and local representatives with calls.
The worries stem from a lack of access to printers and scanners, as the forms must be completed and signed by applicants, before being sent back to the department. Digital signatures are currently not being accepted.
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said more than 16,000 applied for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, and that it would be paid within days.
The payment is for six weeks and will be the de facto payment for workers until they are added to the list they should be on.
That number is expected to spike significantly with a further 200,000 retail workers estimated to join the already 140,000 laid off from industries such as bars, restaurants, creches, and gyms.
It is understood that plans are afoot to allow applicants to either sign digitally or apply through an online portal from next week, removing the need for physical signatures.
As it stands, would-be applicants can contact the department for forms, which will be posted out and can be returned free of charge.
There has also been confusion as to whether claiming the emergency allowance will affect existing payments such as allowances for dependent children or adults.
Here are key questions:
So what is the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment?
The new payment is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost employment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who may be eligible?
It is estimated that up to 140,000 bar, restaurant, and childcare workers have been laid off due to Covid-19. Retail Excellence expects a further 200,000 shop workers to be added to the list.
How much is the payment?
A flat rate payment of €203 per week will be paid for six weeks.
How does a laid-off worker access it?
The payment has a one–page application form that can be downloaded online from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and sent off by Freepost to be processed.
Can I not fill it online and email it back?
Not currently. The downloaded and filled form must be sent to PO Box 12896, Dublin 1.
I do not have a printer or scanner. What should I do?
Contact the department at 1890 800 024 to request a form; however, a huge volume of calls are being dealt with. Some local TDs have been offering to print forms for constituents.
When will I see my payment?
The department has said it is working as quickly as it can through the thousands of applications, and advised to keep checking bank accounts until it comes through.
What if I am getting another social welfare payment?
If you are getting another social welfare payment, such as Working Family Payment, and you have lost your employment, it can be paid in addition to the emergency payment.
What about dependent children/adult payments?
When you apply for the emergency payment, you should also apply for a normal jobseeker’s payment. If you can not apply for a jobseeker’s payment at the same time, you should do so within six weeks. Once your normal jobseeker’s payment is being paid, you will be paid any increases for your spouse or partner and children, which will be backdated to the date you applied.