Know your rights: Short time working and Jobseeker’s Benefit

QUESTION: I’VE been working for the same company for over 10 years. Twelve months ago my company temporarily reduced the number of days I work each week from 5 days to 3 days. I have been claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit for 2 days of unemployment since. How long can I continue to claim Jobseeker’s Benefit?

QUESTION: I’VE been working for the same company for over 10 years. Twelve months ago my company temporarily reduced the number of days I work each week from 5 days to 3 days. I have been claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit for 2 days of unemployment since. How long can I continue to claim Jobseeker’s Benefit?

ANSWER: IF you have over 260 (5 years) PRSI contributions you are entitled to claim Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) for 312 days of unemployment. This would represent 52 weeks or 12 months using the standard social welfare week of 6 days.

As your working week was reduced temporarily from 5 days per week to 3 days per week you would have been assessed as a systematic short time worker. This means that your social welfare week is based on 5 working days so you are considered unemployed for 2 out of 5 days. Your Jobseeker’s Benefit for the 2 days that you are unemployed is calculated as two-fifths of your normal amount of Jobseeker’s Benefit. This payment is not taxable.

To find how many weeks you can claim JB for in total you divide your total entitlement of 312 days by the number of days you claim JB each week (2 days). This is 156 weeks. You have already claimed 52 weeks of JB so if you continue your current work pattern and continue to be treated as a systematic short time worker you would have 104 weeks left on your claim.

However your situation may change since the Department of Social Protection will reassess a systematic short time worker’s Jobseeker’s Benefit claim if it goes on for an extended period and can be considered permanent. If the Department decides that it is unlikely you will return to full-time work with your company, you will be reassessed as a part-time worker.

If you are reassessed as a part-time worker and continue your current work pattern you will be treated as unemployed for 3 days out of 6 (because the Department of Social Protection uses a 6-day working week for part-time working). Your payment will increase since you will be paid for 3 days of unemployment. However this income is taxable so you will probably have to pay tax. You must also show that you are looking for work. If you are reassessed as a part-time worker now and continue to work 3 days a week you would have approximately 69 weeks remaining on your Jobseeker’s Benefit claim. (You work this out by dividing the number of days remaining on your claim by 3.)

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Offaly Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public at the Bridge Centre, Tullamore. Tel: 057 93 52204.

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, Lo-call 1890 777 121 or (021 4521600).