IT is widely recognised that losing your job can be one of the most difficult times of your life. The following are some common queries people have in this area:
Q. If I was informed by my employer that my job is ending are there things that I should consider?
There are a number of things which should be checked. You are entitled to any outstanding wages due to you and you should receive pay for any annual leave which you have not taken. It’s important to note that the ending of employment is the only situation where it is legal to pay an employee instead of giving annual leave.
If your employment ends during the week ending on the day before a public holiday and you have worked for your employer for the previous 4 weeks, you should get an additional day’s pay for the public holiday. This also applies to part-time employees who have a right to the public holiday by working at least 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks.
You must also receive payment instead of notice, if you have not worked your notice period. If there is a company pension scheme, you should be informed about what happens to your pension fund.
You no longer get a P45 when you lose your job. Now, when you leave a job your employer will enter your leaving date and details of your final pay and deductions into Revenue’s online system. If tax has been deducted from your pay since 1 January last and you are now unemployed, you may be entitled to a tax refund.
Q. How much notice should one get?
The length of notice you are entitled to, will depend on your contract of employment. There is also a minimum entitlement set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005.
To be entitled to the legal (or ‘statutory’) minimum, you must have been working for your employer continuously for at least 13 weeks. If you worked from 13 weeks to two years, you must get one week, while you get two weeks if you were employed from two to five years. This increases to four weeks if you were employed from 5-10 years and six weeks if you were employed from 10 -15 years. Finally, if you were employed for 15 years or more, you are entitled to eight weeks notice. While the notice entitlements under your contract of employment can be more than the minimum periods above, your contract cannot have a notice period less than the above.
This means that whatever your contract says, your employer must give you at least the statutory minimum period of notice. You cannot get less, even if your contract says this.
Q. Can an employee receive pay instead of notice?
Under employment legislation you can agree with your employer to waive your right to notice. If you both agree, your employer can pay you in lieu (instead) of notice.
Q. When does redundancy happen?
Where you lose your job because your employer is closing the business or reducing the number of staff, this is known as redundancy. It happens when your job in the company no longer exists, you are let go and are not replaced.
Q. What option is there if someone feels that they were unfairly selected or that there wasn’t a genuine redundancy situation?
If you feel that your employer has selected you unfairly, or that there was no genuine redundancy situation, you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal.
Q. What is statutory redundancy pay?
You are entitled to get a minimum redundancy payment after you have two years’ service in your job. This is known as a statutory redundancy. The statutory redundancy payment is based on a calculation using your pay and your length of service. If you are eligible for redundancy pay, you are entitled to two weeks’ pay for every year of service and one additional week’s pay. The maximum weekly amount used to calculate redundancy pay is €600 a week (or €31,200 a year), even if your pay is more per week.
Q. The loss of income is the big concern associated with losing your job. If this happens what social welfare supports are there for people?
Depending on your circumstances you may be entitled to an unemployment social welfare payment. If you have enough social insurance contributions you may be entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB). If you do not have enough PRSI contributions you may qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) which is a means-tested benefit.
Q. What are the qualifying conditions for Jobseekers Payments?
To qualify for Jobseeker’s payments you must be aged under 66. You must have had a substantial loss of employment and as a result be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7. You must also be capable of work and be available for and genuinely seeking work
For JB you must have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions and for JA you must pass the means test and also satisfy the habitual residence condition.
While you are getting a jobseeker’s payment, you must attend meetings and take part in appropriate employment schemes, training or work experience if requested by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).
Q. Can you claim a Jobseekers payment if your hours of work are reduced or you can only get part-time work?
If you are in a situation that you can only find part-time work or if your employer reduces your days at work to three days a week or less, you may get a jobseeker’s payment for the other days. You must also meet the other conditions that apply to the payment, for example, you must continue to look for full-time work. In the case of Jobseeker’s Allowance, any income from work is assessed in the means test.
Where a Jobseeker’s Benefit recipient is working for part of a week, the amount of JB they are paid is based on a five-day week. This means that for each day that a person is employed, 1/5th of the normal rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit is deducted from their payment
Q. Are there any supports for people who are self-employed that lose their employment?
Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-Employed) is a weekly payment from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to people who lose their self-employment.
To qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-Employed) you must be aged between 18 and 66 and you must be no longer be self-employed. You must have lost your self-employment involuntarily and not because of a temporary shutdown or seasonal closure.
However, you can work as an employee for up to 3 days each week and get Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-Employed).)
You must also meet the other conditions re being capable of work, being available for and genuinely seeking full-time work and have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions. If you don’t qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit (Self-Employed) you may qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is means tested.
Q. Are there any other supports for unemployed people?
Depending on your personal circumstances, if you are getting a jobseekers payment, you may qualify for a medical card or GP visit card and other secondary benefits such as Rent Supplement under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance
For further information call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. The offices are staffed from 10am-5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm.
Alternatively you can email [email protected] or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie