The 2015 Act provides for the Back to Work Family Dividend scheme. The existing scheme for continued payments for qualified children was discontinued.
The Scheme was intended to provide a financial incentive to jobseekers and recipients of One-Parent Family Payments who have children who cease claiming their social welfare payment on account of that person or the person’s spouse, civil partner, or cohabiting taking up employment, increasing hours of employment or taking up self-employment.
The dividend is designed to act as a further incentive to work in addition to the existing family income supplement. It operated during the period of economic recovery and is to be available to jobseekers and lone parents who take up or increase the level of their level of employment up to March 2018.
Under the scheme, the payment of the increases in Jobseeker’s Allowance in respect of qualified children could continue up to 13 weeks after the person takes up full employment, which is expected to last at least four weeks. The scheme was supervened by the Back to Work Family Dividend.
The Minister for Social Protection may make regulations to require employers to provide the relevant information which is required for the purpose of determining eligibility and may prescribe additional education, training, supported employment, and work payment schemes for the purpose as qualifying schemes.
A person who meets the eligibility criteria for the scheme is entitled to a weekly payment for up to two years following on from the ending of the claim for Jobseekers payment or One-Parent Family Payment. When the Back to Work Family Dividends Scheme commenced, applications were accepted from persons who have taken up employment or self-employment or increased their hours since 1 January 2005. Payments were to be backdated.
The Conditions of entitlement for Back to Work Family Dividend, is prescribed. A person will in general be eligible for the Back to Work Family Dividend, if
- he or she is aged under 66,
- has qualified children,
- has been in receipt of certain social welfare payments or participating in certain employment or training schemes and is
- habitually resident in the State.
The qualifying social welfare payments are
- Jobseeker’s Benefit,
- Jobseeker’s Allowance, including Jobseeker’s Transitional Allowance and
- One-Parent Family Payment.
The dividend is also available to people who would have been in receipt of one of the above social welfare payments but for the fact that the person was participating in
- specific education training,
- supported employment or
- work placement scheme such as Community Employment, the Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Gateway, or other such qualifying schemes.
In the case of recipients of Jobseeker’s Benefit or allowance other than Jobseeker’s Allowance, transitional arrangements, recipients must have been receiving payments for at least 12 months in total or at least six months in the previous year, before claiming Back to Work Dividend. Recipients may combine time spent on education, supported employment and time spent on Jobseeker’s payment to meet this eligibility requirement.
In the case of recipients of One-Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance, transitional arrangements who claim Back to Work Dividend, there is no requirement to have been in receipt of either of these payments for a minimum period of time in order to qualify for the dividend.
In addition to eligibility conditions, a former recipient of One-Parent Family Payment is eligible for the dividend, where that person no longer qualifies for One-Parent Family Payment due to age related reforms that have been introduced in the scheme in recent years or where that person was engaged in employment or self-employment prior to ceasing to claim the One-Parent Family Payment.
A person who is qualified for the Back to Work Family Dividend will cease to be qualified if he or his spouse, civil partner, cohabitant etc.
- receives a weekly social welfare payment,
- participates in education, training, supported employment, work placement or
- ceases to be employed or self employed.
A person may receive illness benefit or injury benefit for up to six weeks without the dividend being withdrawn, if he or she is temporarily incapacitated for work.
Only one Back to Work Family Dividend may be paid per couple.
The rate of the Back to Work Family Dividend is based in the first year on the rate of qualified child increase being paid to that person immediately before he or she ceased to claim the Jobseekers payment or One-Parent Family Payment subject to a maximum weekly payment of €119.20 and will be half of that rate in the second year subject to a maximum overall weekly payment of €59.60.
The dividend will be paid for a maximum of two years provided the person remains in employment. If the person returns to social welfare payment within the period, the dividend ceases. It may recommence for the unexpired part of the two-year period, if the person or his or her spouse, civil partner or a co-habitant obtains another job. A maximum of two occasions per claim is allowed for recommencement.
The payment is made weekly and is related to the number of children in respect of whom, a qualified child increase was being paid before the dividend was claimed.
The Back to Work Family Dividend was paid at a standard weekly rate of €29.80 per child, subject to an overall ceiling of €119.20 per week in the first year. This reduces to €59.60 per week in the second year.
Back to Work Family Dividend is not paid in respect of any child who claims a weekly social welfare payment in his or her own right or who is regarded as a qualified child or adult for the purpose of any other person, who is claiming an increase in weekly social welfare payment thereby.
The payment of the dividend is not to be made in respect of any child who participates in education, training, supported employment or work placement in his own right.