One company has taken on 72 of the almost 5,000 people under the Government’s JobsPlus scheme, the Department of Social Protection has confirmed.
And some of those who are being taken on under the scheme are earning upwards of €50,000 per year.
JobsPlus provides a direct monthly financial incentive to employers who take on staff from the Live Register.
The incentive programme provides the employers with two levels of payment: €7,500 over two years where a jobseeker who is 12-24 months on the live register is recruited; and €10,000 for each person recruited who has been unemployed for more than 24 months. The rate of payment depends on the length of time the person is unemployed.
That means that the company, which has taken on the 72 people so far, is accumulating a minimum of more than €500,000 in incentives.
The department said that under Data Protection rules, it could not identify the company, adding that there is no cap on the number of employees an employer can recruit under this incentive.
Junior Social Protection Minister Kevin Humphreys said that since the scheme was established in July 2013, 13,083 jobseekers had confirmed their eligibility for JobsPlus and of those 4,838 have gone on to take up a job.
Just 238 of those who secured work as a result of the scheme have since left employment.
The minister also confirmed that while employees must be paid at least the minimum wage, currently €8.65 per hour, many of those who have so far been taken on are receiving much more than that.
The department collects data from employers in respect of expected pay levels at registration and while 937, or almost 20%, are earning €17,500 or less, more than 1,000 are earning in excess of €25,000 per year.
In fact, 38 were earning between €40,000-€50,000; eight were earning between €50,000 and €60,000; and two were earning in excess of €60,000.
In last October’s budget, the Government announced it was doubling the number of positions to 6,000 for the long-term unemployed on JobsPlus. At that point it said 60% of those hired under the scheme had been out of work for over two years.
In order to prevent JobPlus from being used to replace existing staff with cheaper labour the scheme is only available to employers when filling new positions that arise as a consequence of natural turnover. The employer must be approved by the department and offer full-time employment of at least 30 hours spanning over at least four days per week to eligible recruits.
The department has said that employers must give details of their workforce prior to application and that, where an increase in the workforce is not evident, employers will be asked to provide additional information.
Mr Humphreys said: “Research shows that the longer you are out of work, the harder it is to get back into a job. That is why one of my priorities is helping the long- term unemployed.”
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