THE Government wants to pay bosses to extend the hours of thousands of employees working three-day weeks.
It emerged yesterday that the numbers claiming the dole increased yet again last month, by almost 30,000 to 466,923. Of those on the Live Register, 64,000 are working three days each week and claiming welfare for the other two.
Social Protection Minister Eamon O Cuív and Employment Minister Batt O’Keeffe are examining a scheme which would see the employers of those workers paid the money otherwise spent on social welfare in return for extending their working week to five days.
They believe that, as well as having tax benefits, the extra days would increase the relevant workers’ self-worth. The initiative is still in its gestation, but the ministers hope to be able to go public with the full details later in the autumn.
“We’re looking at 64,000 people on a three-day week”, said Mr O’Keeffe, speaking in Galway at the Irish Manufacturing Council conference. “To me it seems this is an area where we can impact immediately. People, for instance, at various periods of the year would be looking to take a lot of those people back on a full-time basis.
“There is a suggestion within the industry that it pays some people better to be on a three-day week than on a five-day week. So, Forfas is looking to see exactly what element of truth is in that and I’m hoping to have that report by the end of September.”
Mr O’Keeffe said there was disappointment over the Live Register figures, but he pointed to the seasonal nature of the returns and was hopeful of a turnaround next month. “They’re disappointing. They’re the highest ever and come September, those figures will be reduced dramatically.”
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