Dáil Éireann - Volume 331 - 24 November, 1981

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - AnCO Centres.

30. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Labour if he is aware that adults, either labourers or tradesmen, who are employed on AnCO projects do not have their insurance cards stamped and that as a result may not qualify for unemployment benefit subsequently; and if he will arrange to stop this practice of classifying qualified adults as trainees.

Mr. Kavanagh: The AnCO projects to which the Deputy refers are training projects organised under AnCo's Community Youth Training Programme. AnCO use this programme to provide training for young unemployed youths and unemployed craftsmen and skilled labourers. At the same time the training activities engaged in facilitate the provision of a social or community amenity which would not have been undertaken unless subsidised by a body such as AnCO.

The unemployed craftsmen and skilled labourers are invited to participate in the projects as trainees. Their time with AnCO is designed so that they expand [32] their skills through training or update their skills as appropriate under the supervision of AnCO's training instructor staff.

Each trainee whether adult or young person is paid the appropriate trainee allowance which is exempt from income tax. They are not in employment with AnCO and during training they are encouraged and assisted to seek permanent employment. As trainees participating in an AnCO training programme are not employed under a contract of service with AnCO such persons cannot be regarded as being in fully insurable employment according to the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1981.

However, provision has been made in the above-mentioned Act to insure AnCO trainees for occupational injuries benefit while with AnCO. Trainees on AnCO courses also receive a credit for each week of attendance under the Social Welfare (Contributions) (Amendment) Regulations, 1968. These credits maintain an insured person's rights under the Acts and are reckoned for the second contribution condition for disability and unemployment benefits etc., but are not reckonable for the first contribution condition which requires 26 to 156 contributions actually paid.

My Department have been pursuing with the Department of Social Welfare whether anything further can be done to improve the insurance position of AnCO trainees. This matter involves all AnCO trainees and not just those involved in community youth training projects and any move to introduce an employment-type contract to cover training activities could have implications for AnCO's task in providing unemployed persons with training to prepare them for suitable employment.

Mr. Deasy: Would the Minister agree that the present situation is most unsatisfactory? I am sure every Deputy has had cases of this nature where people are employed——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is not allowed to make a statement.

[33] Mr. Deasy: I am asking the Minister if he is aware that skilled tradesmen or labourers while employed by AnCO, ostensibly as trainees, are not allowed to stamp their cards and as a result do not qualify for unemployment benefit. Would the Minister agree that this would not be tolerated in any other State or semi-State agency?

Mr. Kavanagh: People participating in the AnCO training programme are not employed under a contract of service and therefore under the Social Welfare Acts are unfortunately not considered employees. That is why their cards are not stamped in the normal way. I agree with what the Deputy said and I am having the matter investigated.

An Ceann Comhairle: The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.