Stop Covid Discrimination against Older Workers

13 April 2020

Labour Employment Affairs spokesperson Ged Nash has said that workers over 66 should be eligible for the Covid-19 unemployment payment and that the Government must stop discriminating on the basis of age.

  • Workers over 66 deserve some respect

Deputy Nash said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment was quickly introduced and I accept there were some anomalies but many of those were quickly addressed, and we were willing to give the Government time to do that.

“However the disgraceful age-related discrimination against workers aged 66 and older continues. This in particular hits the self-employed hard.

“In a reply to me late last week, the Department confirmed they have no plans to make the payment available to the over 66s or indeed to those workers who are under 18 and not in education.

“There is a small cohort of workers over 66 who were either in employment or self-employed and used their additional non-pension income to meet bills, pay debts and cover outgoings. These are all workers who earned their state pension through a lifetime of PRSI contributions.

“While some workers may be eligible for the temporary wage subsidy scheme, this will help only a small number and does nothing for those who worked for themselves.

“Self employed workers who need additional income have been told to apply for a supplementary welfare allowance (SWA).

“That is a rigmarole that could be avoided by simply extending the eligibility of the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment. It’s not clear why the department won’t budge on this but it is clearly age-based discrimination.

“SWA requires making contact with the Community Welfare Officer and providing comprehensive income and expenditure details. Some may not qualify due to the income limit. There is a simple solution that would resolve this quickly. I am calling on the Government and the Minister to now relent on this and do the right thing.”

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