Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Minister Batt O’Keefe has confirmed to local Dublin North East T.D. Tommy Broughan that citizens who have been made unemployed still face appalling months-long delays in accessing their desperately needed redundancy award.
Deputy Broughan said, “I have heard from a number of local constituents who were made unemployed and who have faced a long and tremendous struggle to access their rightful redundancy payment from the Social Insurance Fund. These constituents have been treated disgracefully. When they were let go (after decades of service to their respective companies), they received no wages in lieu of notice, no holiday and no redundancy pay. They were then left waiting for nearly a year to receive their statutory redundancy payment through the SIF from the Fianna Fail/Green government.”
In light of this outrageous situation, Deputy Broughan contacted Minister Batt O’Keefe and asked him to urgently address the backlogs and delays in the system for accessing redundancy awards through the Social Insurance Fund and if he has met or been briefed by the National Employment Rights Authority on this matter.
Minister O’Keefe has now confirmed to Deputy Broughan that “the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing rebate claims from employers in general dating from February 2010 so that the waiting time is currently between 6 and 7 months.” In terms of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, Minister O’Keefe reports that “the processing time for these claims has improved significantly and claims dating from February 2010 are currently being processed.”
Minister O’Keefe went on to say that he acknowledges Deputy Broughan’s “concerns in relation to processing times overall given the difficulties which delays give rise to for employees and employers alike.” But incredibly, in the eight month period up to the end of August 2010, the number of claims processed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation was 51,800 which is a 96% increase compared to the corresponding period in 2009 (26,405) and which is greater than the total number of claims lodged in 2009 (50,664). On average 1,200 new claims are being made to the Department each week. Minister O’Keefe also reported that “the claims backlog reached its highest level at 43,000 in the latter quarter of 2009 has been reduced to a level of 32,137 at the end of August 2010 representing a reduction in the backlog of almost 11,000 claims.
“Clearly, staff in the Department are under pressure given the soaring number of redundancy claims. But Minister O’Keefe and his Fianna Fail and Green colleagues have overseen this appalling jobs crisis and it is their responsibility to put the resources in place so that citizens who have been made unemployed can access their hard-earned redundancy payment as fast and efficiently as possible”, concluded Deputy Broughan.