30. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if failure to sign a personal progression plan with Seetec is used by deciding officers as a sole reason to penalise a participant’s social protection payment. (Question 19301/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Penalty rates are a legal provision within the Jobseeker schemes to ensure that the Department can achieve compliance with Government Activation Policy as stated in Pathways to Work. Legislation provides that sanctions / penalties in the form of reduced payments may be imposed by the Department’s Deciding Officers where recipients of jobseeker payments fail, without good cause, to comply with activation measures. Act...

45. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of face biometric data records collected through the administration of the public services card that are held by her Department; and the security protocols and policies in place to prevent a leak or breach of data records, including biometric data records collected by her Department through the public services card system. (Question 19302/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Public Services Card Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Biometric information is information about the measurements of human body characteristics, such as fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements and it is typically used for authentication purposes. The Public Services Card (PSC) does not store biometrics. While the card does store the person’s photograph and it appears on the card, it does not store the biometric or arit...

410. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 939 of 20 March 2018 if her Department holds biometric data on individuals in possession of a public services card in view of the fact that a recent e-tender (details supplied) for the provision of facial recognition software for the public services card explicitly states that the supplier must provide the tools and processes to migrate up to 4 million biographic and face biometric records from the legacy system database to the new system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18565/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Public Services Card Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The use of facial matching technology has been successfully employed by the Department for a number of years. What is proposed, in the context of this competitive tender process, is a continuation and upgrade of this existing technology.
The Public Services Card does not store biometrics. While the card does store the person’s photograph and it appears on the card, it does not store the biometric or arithmetic templ...

1438. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the procedures regarding JobPath and the signing of a personal progression plan; if the procedure has been changed or altered; and if a person in receipt of a welfare payment that is on JobPath is obliged to sign a form. (Question 15776/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - JobPath Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The primary goal of the Department’s activation services is to move people from unemployment to full-time and sustained employment. Jobseekers are required to engage with the Department’s activation services and this obligation applies irrespective of whether the service is provided by the Department’s own case officers or those advisors employed by external contractors such as the JobPath providers. 
All jobseekers r...

581. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if it is planned to allow for a phasing in of the new total contributions approach for the first ten years or so to reduce unfair and sudden losses to the first generation of new pensioners from 2020 onwards in view of the recent publication of the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023. (Question 11393/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Pensions Reform)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 581 and 582 together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020.
Calculation of pension under the Yearly Average Approach and under the Total Contributions Approach will give...

582. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the jettisoning of the 30 year base for pension calculation used in the National Pension Framework and explored in the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund 31 December 2015, in view of the recent publication of the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023. (Question 11394/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Pensions Reform)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 581 and 582 together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020.
Calculation of pension under the Yearly Average Approach and under the Total Contributions Approach will give...

591. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in full-time work or study in receipt of back to work enterprise allowance, back to education allowance and the one parent family allowance. (Question 11561/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Following clarification with the Deputy’s Office, the requested statistics as at the 28th of Feb 2018 are as follows:
- 9,188 recipients currently on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance;
- 11,160 recipients currently on the Back to Education Allowance and 
- 39,432 recipients currently on the One-Parent Family Allowance.
 ...

592. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of the working family payment. (Question 11562/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Working Family Payment Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Working Family Payment is an in-work support which provides an income top-up for employees on low earnings with children and offers a financial incentive to take-up employment. Currently there are almost 57,700 families with more than 129,000 children in receipt of the WFP. The estimated spend on WFP this year is approximately €431 million.
 ...

593. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 223 of 28 February 2018, the reason a breakdown of the top 20 employers is not available to her Department; and when it will be available. (Question 11563/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Live Register Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): There are two reasons why it is not possible to provide data at the level of individual employers: one is technical, and the other concerns statistical confidentiality. At a technical level, reliably identifying a single employer, regardless of the details of corporate structures, requires the existence of an agreed ‘unique business identifier’ (UBI). However, a UBI does not currently exist in Ireland. The creation ...

614. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the report on the costings of pay equality and the timeframe to achieve same (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11682/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Public Sector Pay)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): As Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection I have responsibility for State pension policy. However, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has responsibility for public service pay and pensions.
 ...

223. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of casual, part-time employees in receipt of social welfare payments such as jobseeker’s allowance, jobseeker’s benefit and family income supplement, by the 20 largest private sector employers and occupation type; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10352/18 asked on 28 Feb 2018 - Live Register Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): At the end of January 2018, there were 50,231 casual and part-time workers on the Live Register. Equivalent figures for all months from May 2002 to January 2018 are published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), based on returns made to them by my Department, in Table 7 of the Live Register statistical release (available at http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/lr/liveregisterjanuary2018/).
A tabular stat...

92. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when she plans to launch the public consultation on pension reform further to her announcement in November 2017; the details and timeframe of the public consultation process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8434/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Pensions Reform)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Pensions reform is a Government priority and I can confirm an intention to publish and commence the implementation of a pensions reform plan in the coming weeks. This reform plan will detail measures to reform both our State and supplementary pension systems. Perhaps the two most fundamental reform measures contained within this plan will relate to the introduction of the ‘Total Contributions Approach’ for the State ...

102. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to raise the ceiling on annual reckonable earnings to be taken into account in the calculation of statutory redundancy lump sum payments in view of the fact that there has been no increase since 1 January 2005. (Question 8433/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Redundancy Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): It is the employer’s responsibility to pay statutory redundancy and other wage related entitlements to all eligible employees. An eligible employee is entitled to two weeks statutory redundancy payment for every year of service, plus a bonus week. Compensation is based on the worker’s length of reckonable service and reckonable weekly remuneration, subject to a ceiling of €600 per week. In the event that an employer...

552. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if discussions are expected to reclassify stable staff as agricultural workers further to a recent determination (details supplied) issued by the Labour Court into the classification of stable staff working in horse racing. (Question 8459/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Labour Court)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 93, 552 and 553 together. 
The Labour Court determination in question involves a case where the Court, in exercising its independent and quasi-judicial functions, found against an employer in the horse racing industry in relation to breaches of the working time legislation.
The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (the 1997 Act) sets out statutory rights for employees in relation to w...

553. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the efforts she is making to protect stable staff involved in horse racing under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8460/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Labour Court)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 93, 552 and 553 together. 
The Labour Court determination in question involves a case where the Court, in exercising its independent and quasi-judicial functions, found against an employer in the horse racing industry in relation to breaches of the working time legislation.
The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (the 1997 Act) sets out statutory rights for employees in relation to w...

554. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons within each of the six payment bands who are in receipt of the State pension (contributory). (Question 8462/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - State Pension (Contributory) Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The six rates bands came into existence at the start of September 2012 for persons with a date of birth after 31st of August 1946. At the end of January 2018 there were 395,091 people in receipt of state pension (contributory) in total and of these 153,355 were in receipt of payment based on the six rate bands from September 2012. The number of claimants in each of these rate bands is:
 Yearly average rate ba...

555. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when she plans to launch the public consultation on pension reform further to her announcement in November 2017; the details and timeframe of the public consultation process; the steps she will take to amend section 48 of the Pensions Act 1990 and the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 that will provide pension members with more choice, such as approved retirement funds when scheme trustees decide to wind up pension schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8463/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Pensions Reform)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Pensions reform is a Government priority and I can confirm an intention to publish and commence the implementation of a pensions reform plan in the coming weeks. This reform plan will detail measures to reform both our State and supplementary pension systems.
Perhaps the two most fundamental reform measures contained within this plan will relate to the introduction of the ‘Total Contributions Approach’ for the State ...

647. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 330 to 332, inclusive, of 1 February 2018, if her attention has been drawn to the conclusions of the recent actuarial review of the Social Insurance Fund in regard to using a 30-year basis for full pension entitlement (details supplied), in particular the conclusion that under a 30-year basis, a significant number of persons will be negatively impacted in view of the proposal to use a 40-year basis in the interim total contributions approach. (Question 7241/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 to 650, inclusive, together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020. The move to such a system has been signalled, therefore, for a significant period of time.
As was...

648. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the guarantees or provision she plans to make for the first generation of pensioners under the total contributions approach from 2020 onwards in order that persons will not be faced with significant cuts to their pension expectations with no time to adjust their planning; and if her attention has been drawn to a conclusion in the national framework plan (details supplied). (Question 7242/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 to 650, inclusive, together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020. The move to such a system has been signalled, therefore, for a significant period of time.
As was...

649. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the home care credits in the total contributions approach will be allocated in the same way that unemployment credits are, namely, that in the same contribution year a person can have a mix of paid contributions and home care credits. (Question 7243/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 to 650, inclusive, together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020. The move to such a system has been signalled, therefore, for a significant period of time.
As was...

650. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to change a core principle of the State contributory pension by introducing means testing in view of the fact that she has referred to other sources of income in discussions on the impact of pension rate changes on affected pensioners. (Question 7244/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 to 650, inclusive, together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from around 2020. The move to such a system has been signalled, therefore, for a significant period of time.
As was...

582. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the implication of recent court decisions in respect of Seetec and Turas Nua deducting payments from persons in receipt of social welfare payments; and the arrangements in place to refund unlawful deductions and to ensure that the practice ceases. (Question 5484/18 asked on 06 Feb 2018 - Social Welfare Payments Administration)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The primary goal of the Department’s activation services is to move people from unemployment to full-time and sustained employment. All jobseekers are required to engage with the Department’s activation service and this obligation applies irrespective of whether the service is provided by the Department’s own case officers or those advisors employed by external contractors such as the JobPath providers. Failure to e...

596. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of secondees from companies (details supplied) that are working in her Department. (Question 5834/18 asked on 06 Feb 2018 - Departmental Staff Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): There are no secondees from these companies working in my Department.
 ...

320. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that under the proposed total contributions approach to pensions, persons who retire after 2020 will face cuts of up to 44% in their pensions relative to current rates such as in examples (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5045/18 asked on 01 Feb 2018 - State Pension (Contributory))

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 320 to 322, inclusive, together.
On the 23 January, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated by a new “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of a new HomeCaring credit. Unlike the current Homemakers scheme, this credit will apply to periods bot...

321. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she is satisfied that the plan to substantially raise the bar of qualification for a full State contributory pension is a fair and equitable approach for persons retiring after 2020 with reference to the total contribution approach. (Question 5046/18 asked on 01 Feb 2018 - State Pension (Contributory))

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 320 to 322, inclusive, together.
On the 23 January, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands to have their pension entitlement calculated by a new “Total Contributions Approach” (TCA) which will include up to 20 years of a new HomeCaring credit. Unlike the current Homemakers scheme, this credit will apply to periods bot...