Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

The closure of businesses, because of Covid-19 affected thousands of workers in Ireland. To help people who had lost income, the government introduced the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.


How Much is the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

The Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was initially €203 a week . From the 24th March it was increased to €350 a week . The payment was reduced to €203 for some people in July . ( see below for details.)


How Long Will it Continue ?

Important Update:– If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you must contact the Department by 13th July 2020 to confirm that you still qualify. More details Here .

Welfare originally said it would be paid for 6 weeks. Later, they changed this to 12 weeks . Eventually, they said it would be paid for the “duration of the crisis” It will now run until the end of March 2021

Latest : See that latest details on the rates and dates of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment


Reduction from €350 to €203 a week.

Reductions for some people took effect from June 29th.
The PUP rate was cut to €203 for those with average earnings of less than €200 per week.
All other claimants will remain on €350 a week.
Anyone who was receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Benefit as a part-time or casual worker immediately before this payment is not affected by this reduction. Their earnings were not reviewed and they remain on the rate of €350.

Assessment of Earnings

If you are an employee, the Department will look at your average gross weekly earnings for 2019 and also the average for January and February of 2020. The highest average figure of the two was used.

For example, if your average gross weekly earnings in 2019 were €195 and in the first 2 months of 2020 the average was €210, they will use the higher figure of €210.
Important- People who were receiving Job Seekers Allowance or Benefit as a part-time or casual worker immediately before this payment . They will remain on the full rate of €350 a week

If you are self-employed, your average weekly income for 2018 is used to decide your rate of payment.

The first payment with the lower rate of €203 (for those affected) will be on Tuesday July 7th
If your rate is cut and you think you should continue on the €350 rate, you can appeal. You will need to request a review of earnings by forwarding all supporting documents. To request this review this you can :
Email: PUPRerate@welfare.ie OR write to: PUP Rerate Requests, DEASP, Intreo Centre, Cork Road, Waterford

Details of further reductions here.




Will it be Backdated ?

There has been a lot of confusion about backdating. Many people who didn’t claim straight away, or whose claims were delayed, did not get their payment backdated to the day they lost their job.
On April 2nd a press release from Welfare said that… “any arrears due back to the last date of employment will be calculated and paid at a future date.”

On May 25th – Social Welfare said on their website …

If you are due arrears you will be paid when your claim is reviewed.
It may take a number of months before the Department will be able to review payments made to customers for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. If you are due arrears you will be notified and receive payment. There is no need to take any further action.”


Ending a Claim When Going Back To Work

People who return to work should close their PUP claim on the actual date that they start back at work.

A single payment of the PUP covers 7 days from the Friday 11 days before the payday to the Thursday, 5 days before the payday.
If you close your claim and have at least one unpaid day of unemployment – welfare will pay you the full payment for that week.
So – this means that many workers will get one , or in some cases,two more payments after they return to work.

  • Example 1 –
  • Someone returns to work on Monday June 15th.
  • They close their claim on Monday June 15th
  • Covid Payment arrives Tuesday June 16th covering Fri June 5th to Thursday 11th June.
  • They are entitled to that full payment of €350.
  • They should also get another payment on Tue 23rd June because they were unemployed for at least one day from Friday 12th June.

Example 2

  • Someone returns to work on Saturday June 13th.They close their claim on June 13th
  • The Covid Payment on Tuesday June 16th covers Fri June 5th to Thursday 11th June.They are entitled to that full payment of €350.
  • They will also get another week’s payment on Tue 23rd June because they were unemployed on Friday 12th .

The easiest way to close a claim for the pandemic unemployment payment is online via MyWelfare.ie.

You can also email – at info@welfare.ie .
The department’s helpline is 1890 800 024 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm).


Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Important – It was confirmed by the Dept. of Social Protection that the PUP is treated as a qualifying payment for the Back to School Allowance . (As long as claimants satisfy the other criteria.)


Claiming Jobseekers Benefit

Originally Welfare told everyone (some exceptions below) who applied for the PUP that they should also apply for a jobseekers’ payment within the first 12 weeks. This requirement for everyone to apply seems to have been dropped sometime in April – but couples with children should still apply because they may get more that way.



Why is the PUP higher than Jobseekers?

The payment is €350 per week . The government originally set it at a rate of €203 but then increased it to €350 on 24 March.

From 24th March – the same rate of €350 was paid to all successful applicants regardless of previous wage or hours worked.

The main reason it is a higher rate than the basic Jobseekers Benefit is that it had to be done in a hurry.
Welfare said that if they forced everyone to apply for Jobseekers and go through a full assessment – all the claims could have taken several weeks to get paid and thousands of people would have had no income. Instead , they set up this emergency payment of €350 for all with a quick and simple application.

The €350 a week is the same as the Jobseekers rate for an adult with an adult dependant. Some people may be getting more than they would on Jobseekers – but the Minister for Welfare has said that they would rather overpay some people instead of underpaying others.

The COVID payment includes no amount for children. If you have a dependent partner and children you will be better of on full Jobseekers. If you eventually qualify for a higher amount of Jobseekers – then welfare should backdate any underpayment .

Who Can Get It ?

  • Aged between 18 and 66
  • Living in Ireland
  • The payment is available to employees, self employed , full time or part time,
  • including people working and getting other social welfare benefits IF they have lost ALL employment in Ireland * because of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
    (includes temporarily laid-off from work or asked to stay at home from work due to the pandemic )
  • must have been in employment or self employment immediately before Friday 13 March 2020, OR . If you work shifts, short time or other atypical work patterns you must have been in employment on or after 6 March 2020.
  • *If you are a cross-border worker who lives in Ireland, were working in Northern Ireland and you lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can also claim the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • Self Employed people can claim it but your trading income has to have “collapsed to the extent that you are available to take up other full-time employment if it was offered to you.” They will qualify for as long as they are available to take up other work. (The requirement originally was that you must have ceased trading because of the pandemic – but that was amended in early April)
  • Students who lose all employment can also claim the new COVID-19 payment. However, students should not apply for a jobseeker’s payment afterwards as they are not eligible. They should remain on the new COVID-19 payment.
  • If you have voluntarily taken time off work to look after your child because of school or childcare closures and you are no longer paid by your employer, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • If you were working and were also in receipt of any social welfare payment such as a Carers Payment, Working Family Payment (WFP) or One-Parent Family Payment, you can, provided you have lost your job due to Covid-19, also claim the Covid emergency payment, in addition to retaining your existing welfare payment. The €350 COVID- 19 Payment Unemployment Payment will replace your employment income and will be regarded by the Department as equivalent to previous employment income. Your underlying social welfare payment will be adjusted to take account of the difference between the Covid-19 payment and your normal employment income. This may take some time and any overpayments will be taken from future payments.
  • Originally (up to April 25th) people who lost your job and were getting a partial social welfare payment, such as Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, did not qualify for the Pandemic payment. Instead, they were told they would get the full rate of jobseeker’s payment. This was changed on the Welfare website on 25th April and now they say if casual Jobseekers claimants are now fully unemployed as a result of the COVID pandemic they should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Their casual claim will be suspended and the COVID-19 payment will issue instead.
  • People getting Working Family Payment (WFP) will keep their WFP if they have lost all their employment because of COVID-19 related issues. They should also claim the new COVID-19 payment. But they shouldn’t apply for a jobseeker’s payment as this will close their Working Family Payment claim. Welfare say that your underlying social welfare payment will be adjusted to take account of the difference between the Covid-19 payment and your normal employment income. This may take some time and any overpayments will be taken from future payments.

You are not eligible to apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if you:

  • were not laid-off from work by your employer, or
  • are continuing to receive income from your employment, or
  • voluntarily left your employment. (except to look after children).
    • In April ,welfare amended the wording a couple of times – and they now say. ” If you left work to care for a child or another person and your employer is no longer paying you, in some circumstances, you may qualify . ” Contact the DEASP using MyWelfare or call 1890 800 024 to find out if you can qualify.

Who Can’t Get it ?

  • Workers who live in Northern Ireland cannot apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. They can claim off the UK.
  • Originally (up to April 25th) people who lost your job and were getting a partial social welfare payment, such as Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance, did not qualify for the Pandemic payment. Instead, they were told they would get the full rate of jobseeker’s payment. This was changed on the Welfare website on 25th April and now they say if casual Jobseekers claimants are now fully unemployed as a result of the COVID pandemic they should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Their casual claim will be suspended and the COVID-19 payment will issue instead.
  • Community Employment (CE) / TuS participants will continue to get a CE payment – so they should not apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • The application form asks the applicant to declare “I declare that I am not being paid by my employer at the moment.” So it should not be applied for if your hours have just been reduced. Your employer could apply for the COVID Wage Subsidy

Is it Taxable ?

Revenue has indicated that it will treat the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment as taxable income.
If they treat it like Jobseekers Benefit – then when people return to employment it could result in an income tax liability of between 20% and 40% of the Covid Payments received. ( The actual amount will depend on your total income for the year). If your total taxable income in the year is less than €16500 – you will not be liable for any tax on it.

More Details here on the Taxation of Covid Unemployment Payment


How to Apply

There is no need for to attend your local Intreo Centre

You can apply online for the new COVID19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. To apply, visit http://MyWelfare.ie and register using just your email address.

Paper applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment can also be downloaded here , printed and returned to PO BOX 12896, Dublin 1. via Freepost, (you just write “Freepost” on the envelope).

Or you can phone the Dept of Social Protection on 1890 800 024 or 01 2481398 for an application form . Or email them – forms@welfare.ie

You do not need to have a Public Services Card (PSC) to claim the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. However, you will need to get one later.

Payments to Irish banks only . (Revolut and N26 accounts are not supported ).

Those applying on or after 8th April can also choose to collect their payment in a post office. They can nominate their local post office and they will need to bring a form of ID with them when collecting their payment .
Payments will be made into a bank/credit union account or to a nominated post office every Tuesday once an application is processed.


You can apply for full Jobseekers Payments through the online channel mywelfare.ie .


Note: Where employers send staff home in circumstances where they are not advised to do so, it is expected that they will continue to pay staff as normal. Employers can claim the Wage Subsidy if they keep paying them.

Any person who is not advised to self-isolate in accordance with the up-to-date guidelines of the HSE, but is requested to stay at home by their employer as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19 will, in situations where the employer cannot continue to pay their wages, be considered to have been temporarily laid-off and can apply for an income support in the form of a Jobseeker’s Payment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

The Department have said will eventually review all claims and will engage with Revenue Commissioners to identify those workers not eligible to avail of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and will take steps to recover any incorrect payment.
Any person who knowingly claims the payment in circumstances where they are not entitled to the payment will be prosecuted.

The Dept asked for the co-operation of the public to ensure that only correct claims are submitted to ensure that they can process claims for people who really need the support as quickly as possible.

PRSI

If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment or you are being paid under the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, when you apply for social insurance payments (for example, Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and the State Pension (Contributory), you will be treated as if you have been paying insurance contributions based on your normal social insurance class.

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