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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Snippet Contents:

This is an issue that comes within the remit of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Finance and it needs to be resolved in favour of the community employment supervisors, many of whom have been left high and dry with no pension.
It was mentioned that school secretaries and ancillary school staff, by and large, work what is termed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection as the school year term, or 38 weeks a year. There are many people in that sector. There are also many people privately employed in a range of areas who have very little entitlements outside of those to which they are entitled under PRSI. I am sure the Minister is familiar with this issue. We need to strengthen the law to ensure that these people are protected going forward.
Living exclusively on a State pension is manageable for a couple living in one house but this becomes a challenge when a person is widowed. When the partner of an elderly person dies he or she has to meet the cost of burial and so on and this is causing huge poverty. However, that is outside the scope of this Bill.
I would like to raise another issue which is also slightly outside the scope of this Bill, namely, the entitlement of self-employed people to invalidity pension. I acknowledge that entitlements for self-employed persons was addressed in the social welfare Bill, and I welcome that because that provision was badly needed. It means that self-employed people whose businesses cease operating are now entitled to any State benefit.
However, there is an issue with regard to invalidity pension. Where a husband and wife are working a farm and the husband has an accident, becomes ill or has a serious diagnosis, under the terms of this Bill for the husband to be eligible for invalidity pension the business has to cease trading. This is causing huge difficulties. The term "cease trading" needs to be reviewed. This is a get-out clause that is being used by the Department. It was also used in regard to payment protection plans that were sold by the banks ten or 15 years ago. Where a person was self-employed and his or her business ceased operating and that person opened a new business such as a restaurant, he or she could not get payment protection in respect of a van that was used for the first business. A self-employed person who owns a small shop in the countryside or elsewhere who becomes ill and has to undergo surgery and further treatment over 12 or 15 weeks also does not qualify for invalidity pension. Self-employed people who get a serious diagnosis will do their best to fight it in the hope that they will be able to return to their business at some stage but if they are a sole operator they might have to cease trading to qualify for the invalidity pension. This measure needs to be revisited. This "cease trading" clause, which is contained in the social welfare legislation, is taking the good out of what was intended.