Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has criticised the government’s inaction to support workers within industries affected by Covid-19 whose eligibility for Short-Time Work Support (STWS) is due to end.
Short-Time Work Support is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit and is specifically for workers who have had their working week reduced on a temporary basis. Many employees, who have been placed on reduced hours due to the impact of Covid-19, have been placed on this Benefit.
However, employees can only receive the support for a maximum of 234 days and as a result, many of these workers are now seeing their eligibility for this payment coming to an end. Yet, despite being advised that they will no longer receive this income support, many working in industries which have reduced working hours are not yet able to return to work.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“Many workers receiving the Short-Time Work Support are now in a situation where their eligibility is coming to an end because they have reached the maximum days allowed for this Benefit.
“However, many of those who are in receipt of this payment are working in industries which are not yet returning to full employment. For example, many in the aviation and retail sectors have been placed on the Short-Time Work Support payment and these sectors have still not opened in full due to ongoing public health guidelines.
“This means that workers running out of time on the STWP will be left with means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance as their only option. Some may not even qualify due to household income, others may qualify on reduced rates. In April, over 600 people exited the Short-Time Work Support payment, with just 60 of those moving to Jobseeker’s Allowance.
“In the same month, 4,180 people were still receiving the payment. This does not just affect a small number of people and we can see this issue is only going to grow unless action is taken now.
“Yet, the government’s response to this is to bury its head in the sand. Just last week on raising this issue with Minister Humphreys, she advised that she has no plans to extend the payment or provide an alternative solution for workers in this position.
“Short-Time workers are quite literally being short-changed because of government inaction on this issue.
‘Inaction is simply unacceptable. I am calling on the Minister Humphreys to extend the time allowed on the Short-Time Work Support and Jobseeker’s Benefit to support workers on reduced hours through no fault of their own.”