The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has called on the Government to close a loophole that’s left women out of work because their employers can’t access coronavirus-related income supports when new mums return from maternity leave.
In a letter to finance minister Paschal Donohoe last week, ICTU leader Patricia King said some women had lost their jobs because their employers had erroneously failed to keep them on the payroll during the period of maternity leave.
The temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS), introduced to help struggling employers pay salaries, only applies to staff who were on payroll on 29th February 2020.
That means many women returning to work after maternity leave don’t meet a ‘key condition’ of the scheme, and businesses dependent on the TWSS are not in a position to keep them on without public support.
Ms King said this went against the spirit of the wage subsidy scheme, and the letter of the Maternity Protection Act.
“There are around 20,000 recipients of maternity benefit each year and some of them will fall foul to this discriminatory operation of the scheme. While I acknowledge and welcome the need for safeguards against abuse, these are bona fide employees, often with a long employment history and an employer registered with Revenue for the TWSS,” she wrote.
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday (20th May) Minister Donohoe said he was working with departmental officials and the Revenue Commissioners to see if changes could be made to the scheme to resolve the problem. He had previously said this would require legislation, which can’t be done before a new government is formed.
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