February 26, 2021
Social Protection Minister, Heather Humphreys TD, has today secured Government approval to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Enhanced Illness Benefit until June 30th,2021.
The two schemes, introduced as a direct response to the Pandemic, were due to expire on March 31st.
Minister Humphreys also confirmed that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will remain open to new entrants.
It will continue to be paid at four rates (€350, €300, €250 and €203) which are linked to a person’s prior income.
This week, the Department of Social Protection issued weekly payments valued at €141.88 million to 473,413 people in receipt of the PUP.
To date, over 847,000 people have received at least one PUP payment and over €6 billion has been paid out since the scheme was introduced last March.
Meanwhile, the Enhanced Illness Benefit will continue to be paid at the rate of €350 up until June 30th,2021.
To date, over 136,000 people have been medically certified for receipt of a Covid-19 related Illness Benefit payment.
The Enhanced Illness Benefit is available to people who are diagnosed by their medical doctor with theCovid-19 virus or who are required by their medical doctor to self-isolate. The rate of payment is €350 per week.
Unlike the Department’s general Illness Benefit, there are no waiting days attached to this payment, so it is paid from day one of illness or self-isolation.
Speaking after today’s Cabinet meeting, Minister Humphreys said:
“As the pandemic continues to impact on all aspects of our lives, I believe it is essential to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Enhanced Illness Benefit until the end June 2021.
“These supports have proven vital in supporting workers who lose their employment, as well as those who contract Covid-19 and must self-isolate.
“This week, over €140mwas spent on the PUP, supporting over 473,000 people. This brings the total PUP bill to date to over €6 billion, which demonstrates both the scale and the importance of this support.
“As I have said previously, as long as these restrictions are in place, the Government will continue to support workers and businesses.
Minister Humphreys added:
“I am also pleased to secure Cabinet approval to extend the Enhanced Illness Benefit until June 30th, inline with the PUP.
“Once a person has been diagnosed with having the Covid-19 virus or are asked to self-isolate they can make an application for the Enhanced Illness Benefit online and their doctor will also submit the illness certificate.
“It is paid from day one of a person’s illness or self-isolation and the rate of payment is €350 per week.
“So the message for anyone who contracts Covid-19 or displays symptoms of the virus is simple: Do not in any circumstance attend the workplace. The Enhanced Illness Benefit is in place to support you.”
Waiver on Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance
Minister Humphreys also secured Government approval to extend the waiver on waiting days for Jobseeker’s payments until the end of June 2021. Essentially, this means that when a person applies for either Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance, their payment is paid from day one.
Ordinarily, when a person applies for either of these two payments, they are not paid for the first 3 days – they are called ‘waiting days’.
Previously, the ‘waiting days’ requirement was waived at the onset of Covid-19, to facilitate people who got temporary work.
This measure was due to expire at the end of March but will now be extended in line with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Enhanced Illness Benefit.
Minister Humphreys continued:
“I want to ensure that we are not placing any obstacles in the way of people who find temporary work at this time.
“So, a person who gets temporary work any time between now and the end of June will not be penalised with ‘waiting days’ when that work finishes. Their Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance will be paid immediately.”