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NWCI welcomes resolution of discrimination in the Wage Subsidy Scheme but criticises delays

Published: Friday, May 29, 2020

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has today welcomed the proposal to resolve the discrimination in the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) for those returning from maternity leave, including backdating the TWSS for those still on payroll, but criticised the initial refusal to deal with the issue and the length of time it took to reach a resolution. 

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said, 

“News from Cabinet today that the discrimination in the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for those returning from maternity leave will end is long overdue, and will come as a relief to the many women for whom this has been causing considerable distress. This issue affected women whose maternity pay had not been topped up, and were expecting to return to work on full pay, and were instead told they were eligible only for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, effectively forcing them out of the workforce.” 

“We regret that women returning from Maternity Leave were excluded from the Scheme and in addition the Minister could not rectify the issue when it was first raised with him over a month ago, and that NWCI was forced take the matter to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Women returning to work from maternity leave are a distinct category of workers with special protections, and should have been respected and rectified by the Minister as soon as this anomaly was pointed out.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“'Data we received from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection shows that almost 11,500 women ceased receiving maternity benefit between March and the end of May. While we don't know how many of these women were affected by this exclusion, the delays in rectifying this have been compounded by considerable financial pressure for women affected at an already very vulnerable time. Therefore, we welcome the Minister’s announcement that this change to the TWSS will be implemented from March 26, the date of the commencement of the scheme. It is critical that women receive these back payments within the next week. However, there may still be issues for women who were ceased from payroll and in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), as in this instance, no retrospection will apply. NWCI will seek further clarity on this matter.”


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