Sinn Féin is to table a Bill that seeks to prevent hundreds of thousands of workers currently claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) from losing out on redundancy payments.
The party said the time spent claiming the PUP, which for many people has been a year, should be included in calculating redundancy payment if a worker’s employment is terminated.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on enterprise, trade, employment and workers’ rights Louise O’Reilly has launched the Redundancy Payments (Lay-off, Short Time and Calculation of Reckonable Service) Bill.
The Bill would ensure that workers don’t lose a year when it comes to redundancy entitlements.
All workers are legally entitled to two weeks’ pay per year of service, which could amount to €1,200.
Ms O’Reilly said the proposed legislation would also make it an offence for employers to “dupe or trick” a worker into resigning and missing out on redundancy payments.
Employers would be hit with a fine at district court.
“We are very hopeful that redundancy won’t have to be contemplated in most cases,” Ms O’Reilly said.
“However, where it does have to happen, we believe that the calculation should be fair and equitable, and that the time spent on the PUP, which is effectively a temporary lay-off period, should be included for calculating how much redundancy a worker would be entitled to.
“We have also clarified a situation whether or not workers can take alternative employment while on the PUP.
“If this legislation passes, it will codify that they will be able to take that alternative employment, and they won’t be punished by having a break in their service.
“The main issue for us is the hope that this won’t end up there.”
Sinn Féin said the Bill was intended to be fair to workers who are currently temporarily laid off and awaiting a return to work.
Many workers could lose out on redundancy payments because time spent on the PUP does not count when calculating payments.
“You’re losing on statutory terms two weeks’ pay, which for a lot of workers will be in or around €1,200, which is a huge amount of money for people who are going to be losing their job,” Ms O’Reilly added.
“It could be the difference of accessing education, a retraining course or being able to give yourself a small amount of financial security.”