Jobseeker’s Benefit is the successor to the former unemployment benefit. The 2006 Act renamed unemployment benefit as Jobseeker’s Benefit.
Jobseeker’s Benefit is a flat sum prescribed by the legislation. There are increases for qualified adults and qualified children. The other additional benefits do not generally apply to jobseekers Benefit.
There must be a interruption of at least three days of employment (by way of unemployment or incapacity). The days need not be consecutive, but they must be within a six consecutive day period. It is the contribution based non-means tested payment where a person is available for employment and is unemployed.
Entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit arises for a day of unemployment which forms part of period of interruption of employment. The person concerned must be under 66, comply with the contribution conditions and sustain a substantial loss of employment in any period of six consecutive days. He must prove unemployment in the manner prescribed.
A person will generally be regarded as having a substantial loss of employment in any period of six consecutive days when he has lost one day of insurable employment provided his reckonable earnings or incomes are reduced by reason of his loss of employment.
The person must be genuinely seeking work. He must take reasonable steps. This may include applications for employment to, and answer to advertised vacancies to persons who appear to be in a position to offer employment.
He must seek information on availability of employment from employers, employment agencies and prospective employers. He must avail of reasonable opportunities for training that is suitable in the circumstances. He may show compliance with the conditions by taking steps to establish himself in sustainable self-employment. He may act on the advice of training agencies or other placement services.
Persons in casual employment are those who normally are employed for periods of less than a week, the number of days and days of the week in which they are employed in each period varies with their level of activity and on termination of each period there is no insurance of being reemployed. In the case of a person in casual employment, the substantial loss of employment requirement does not apply.
Any two of such periods within 26 weeks may be deemed one period of interruption. The initial period of interruption of employment must be three days out of days from a period of six consecutive days. The remuneration must be at least €12.70 a day and at least 117 contributions have been paid within the last three contribution years.
Interruption of employment may, for example, be linked to incapacity. The period must be consecutive. Two such periods in a six-month period are treated as one period of interruption.
Periods spent on various schemes up to a year are deemed not to break interruption of employment. In certain schemes, the period is up to two years; Vocation Training Opportunity Scheme.
A person must be out of work as a result of unemployment or incapacity for three days in a six-day consecutive period. The benefit does not arise for the first three days of interruption of employment. Sundays and other prescribed days are not deemed days of unemployment or incapacity and are disregarded in computing the periods of consecutive days.
The test applies daily. A person is subject to a day of unemployment if he is available for work and he is genuinely seeking, but unable to obtain employment suitable for him having regard to his age, physique, education, occupation, place of residence and family circumstances.
In order to qualify for jobseekers’ benefit, a person has to established compliance with social insurance contribution conditions. He must have at least 104 reckonable contributions paid in the period between first coming into insurable employment and the day in which the claim was made.
In addition, he must have 39 contributions paid or credited [with at least 13 paid in the last complete contribution year]. In the alternative to the 39 weeks contributions requirement, a person must have at least 26 weeks reckonable contribution in each of the second and third last years.
If the contribution requirement is not met, there is an alternative basis by which a person must have at least 26 reckonable contributions paid in each of the second and third last contribution years.
Earnings must be in excess of the weekly amount prescribed €300 (2009) in the relevant contribution year. Where the average reckoned earnings are less than the above, the benefit levels are reduced.
Jobseeker’s Benefit is payable for 9 [formerly 12] months provided the person has at least 260 paid contributions. If he has less and is over 18, the period is nine months. If a person is under 18, the period is six months. Once this period expires, 13 further weeks of insurable employment at least is required before he may qualify again.
Periods of employment under certain employment schemes or other training and employment schemes of up to certain length are disregarded between two continuous periods of employments and do not count in the assessment as a single continuous period of employment.
The 2012 Act reduced the duration of Jobseeker’s Benefit from 12 months to 9 months in the case of people who have paid at least 260 PRSI contributions and from 9 months to 6 months in the case of people who have paid less than 260 contributions, with effect from 3 April 2013. This change applied to new claimants and to certain existing recipients.
However, a person who has paid at least 260 PRSI contributions and has been in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit for at least 6 months on 3 April 2013 continued to be entitled to that benefit for a maximum duration of 12 months. A person who has paid less than 260 PRSI contributions and has been in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit for at least 3 months on 3 April 2013 continued to be entitled to that benefit for a maximum duration of 9 months.
The 2013 Act provided for changes to the Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance schemes to exempt persons who are working as retained fire-fighters from certain conditions applying to those schemes, due to the nature of that employment. It provided for amendments to the Jobseeker’s Allowance scheme to cater for the transition of persons to that scheme who no longer qualify for One-Parent Family Payment due to their youngest child reaching specified age thresholds.
The 2015 Act defines the term ‘‘day of unemployment’’ for the purposes of qualification for Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, including the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangements for former recipients of One-Parent Family Payment.
The 2018 Act gave effect to the Programme for Partnership Government (2016) commitment and Budget 2019 announcement by introducing a new Chapter 12A to the Principal Act providing for a new social insurance based Jobseeker’s Benefit (self-employed) scheme. The scheme provided support to self-employed contributors who are no longer engaged in self-employment.
The new Chapter 12A provides for the general qualifying conditions for receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit (self-employed),
- the social insurance contribution conditions,
- the rate of benefit payable (including reduced rate benefits payable where the average reckonable weekly earnings of the claimant fall below certain thresholds),
- the increases payable where there is a qualified adult or qualified children,
- the duration of payment,
- the requirement to engage with activation services and disqualifications.
These provisions mirror, to a great extent, the existing provisions governing entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit.
The 2018 Act provided for a range of consequential amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 arising from the introduction of the new Jobseeker’s Benefit (self-employed) scheme.
The 2018 Act amended the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 relating to earned income to confirm the tax treatment of Jobseeker’s Benefit (selfemployed). It updated the provisions relating to tax treatment of certain benefits payable under Social Welfare Acts to confirm the tax treatment of Jobseeker’s Benefit (selfemployed).
The 2021 Act provides increase in rates of jobseeker’s benefit relating to certain reckonable weekly earnings, certain weekly income and certain reckonable weekly income and certain periods
The 2021 Act provides for increases in the graduated rates of jobseeker’s benefit from 30 December 2021. The 2021 Act provides for an increase in the qualified adult payment which is payable to claimants of the graduated rates of jobseeker’s benefit from 30 December 2021.