The Workers’ Party has condemned the announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to cut the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for part-time workers, saying the decision is based on a false assumption that those who were working part-time before being made redundant were doing so by choice. 

Speaking on the matter, Workers’ Party representative Éilis Ryan said: 

“Any part-time worker who is seeking full-time is entitled, in normal times, to claim unemployment benefit for the days they are not working. If they for some reason being fully unemployed, in normal times, they receive a full unemployment benefit. 

“The reasoning behind this is that a majority of part-time workers are working part-time because they cannot find suitable full-time employment – they are, therefore, partially unemployed. There is no reason why this should not also be our assumption under the current, changed circumstances.” 

Ryan continued: 

“A company may have employed two people, one on a full-time contract, and one on a part-time contract hoping for more hours – i.e. partially unemployed. Both individuals may now be redundant, but, according to Fine Gael, one requires greater financial assistance from the state because they used to work full-time. This simply does not add up.” 

She concluded: 

“The reality is, that the PUP has exposed how totally unfamiliar with unemployment our Fine Gael bosses are. The €350 payment was chosen because standard unemployment benefit – rightly so – was regarded as too low to survive on, for the newly-unemployed. 

“But if this is the case for a full-time worker, why not a part-time worker? Part-time work is some sort of hobby, taken up by those with wealthy spouses who they can fall back on when they lose their jobs. A part-time worker who becomes unemployed has precisely the same financial needs as a full-time worker. The PUP must be retained in full for all workers.”