Changes to €350 PUP payment badly designed and unfair on seasonal workers

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
06 June 2020
  • 2 cent difference in wages will discriminate against young people and women
  • Timing of Minimum wage change would move someone working 20 hours to higher payment

Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan said the changes announced by Minister Doherty to the €350 Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) yesterday are unfair and impact disproportionally on younger people who rely on full time work during the summer to sustain them year around.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Under the changes announced to the €350 Covid-19 PUP payment yesterday, if you were earning €199.99 a week when you went onto the PUP payment you will get €203 from the end of June. But if you were earning €200.01 a week you get the full payment of €350. A two-cent difference will equate to a gap of €147 in your weekly payment.

“The cut will impact most on young people and women who are most likely to work part time and seasonal hours.

“This cliff edge, particularly effects younger people who were working weekends during term and don’t now have the opportunity to move to full time employment over the summer months. Many students used the summer months to save for their rental income during the year. This will impact on the ability of many students to remain in higher level education next year.

“When people lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic it was the off season for tourism, and post-Christmas retail lull. People working in those sectors would have looked forward to increasing their earnings in the busier summer season.

“There is also a significant impact on women who may have worked 20 hours a week to access family income supplement. If they were paid at the old minimum wage rate of €9.80 an hour for 20 hours they would earn €196 or below the cut off point. However, under the new rate of €10.10 that came into effect on 1st February that rises to €202 making them eligible for the higher payment. It is not clear if the Department will use an average weekly earnings rule or the last highest wage rate to determin eligibility.

“It is also unlikely that the changes introduced by the Minister will deliver major savings as applicants will now become eligible for other social welfare payments and benefits.

“It is wrong that the first spending cut of 2020 will target the lowest paid in our society, discriminating most against young people and women.”

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