My experience of Part time jobseeker’s allowance
Michelle talks about her experience on part time jobseeker's allowance
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"The woman I spoke to told me that it doesn’t matter how many hours a week I work, only how many days."
When I finished my Masters and realised I wasn’t going back to college that September, I found myself in a completely new position: unemployed and (possibly) entitled to a social welfare payment. Because I was 23 at the time, and hadn’t worked much before that - staying in college full time for 5 years limits the amount of hours you can actually work - I figured I wouldn’t be eligible for much, if anything.
I went to my local Intreo centre to make an appointment to meet someone who would tell me what I would be able to claim. When I arrived, I took a ticket and then had to wait an eternity to actually get to talk to a human! Eventually, I was called up - to the reception desk - and I was asked for my PPS number, my age, whether I was living at home or not. I was then given what seemed like a thousand forms to be filled in, and, because I was living at home, my mother also had to give up a lot of information. I was due back in two weeks, but in the meantime, I had been offered a few hours a week, paid, in a place I had been volunteering throughout my masters. I assumed that I would have to give up my Jobseeker’s Allowance, with its maximum of €100 a week, but I didn’t.
Instead, I was given these wonderful yellow pieces of paper that had to be filled in, stamped and signed every single week by myself and my manager. These slips then had to be returned, without fail, by some time during the week that was basically impossible for anyone who worked part-time to achieve. I think it was something like before 10am on a Thursday. Which seems reasonable, until you notice that the postbox for them is actually inside the centre, which closes at 5 and opens at 9; thus negating most people’s ability to actually get the forms there on time… This meant that more often than not, I had to ask my mother to drop the forms in for me - they couldn’t be posted. Or, my payment was delayed. To make things even more complicated, I was paid via cheques that were sent to me by post, which take 3 days to clear in the bank.
Perhaps the thing I found most bizarre about the whole sitution was that nowhere on the form, with the exception of a part that was applicable only to shift workers, was there a space for me to put the hours I had worked. Instead, I had to fill in a dot for any day where I worked. It didn’t matter how long I had worked, whether it was 2 hours or 10 hours, if I worked at all that day then it counted as a day deducted from my unemployment. The amount deducted per day differs for the rate of payment you’re on, but for me €22 was taken off the €100 for every day I coloured in.
I contacted my Intreo centre after a few months because I had been offered a contract for 20 hours a week, and I had to declare this change of circumstance. The woman I spoke to told me that it doesn’t matter how many hours a week I work, only how many days. Therefore, because I was working 20 hours over 4 days, I was no longer eligible for part time jobseeker’s allowance and my payment was ceased. That was the most straightforward part of the whole process.