WORKERS face waits of up to six months for redundancy payments as the number of claims lodged soars to 1,600 per week.
By the end of the first three months of 2009, the number of new claims lodged with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, was equivalent to more than three-quarters of all claims lodged in 2007.
Junior Labour Affairs Minister Billy Kelleher said 19,742 claims had been lodged by the end of March, equal to almost half of all claims for 2008 (40,607).
When asked by Fine Gael TD Jim O’Keeffe what plans the Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan had to tackle the backlog, Junior Labour Affairs Minister Billy Kelleher said nine staff had already been redeployed within the department to the redundancy payments section, and plans are in place to re-assign a further 12.
However, Mr Kelleher said there was “a limit to the amount of people that we can reassign internally because other areas of my department are equally busy”, including those dealing with labour force activation issues and employment rights.
He said discussions were under way with the Department of Finance to see if there was scope for the assignment of additional staff, possibly from other departments.
Mr Kelleher said the increase in claims was “unprecedented” and he was “acutely aware of the difficulties which the inability to deliver an acceptable turnaround of redundancy rebate payments is giving rise to for both individual employees and the business community”.
A notice in yesterday’s national newspapers said the backlog for online claims now dates back to last November and manual claims back to October.
All phone enquiries in relation to redundancies are now being handled by the National Employment Rights Authority offices in Carlow — locall 1890 808090 or 1890 201615.
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