Jan 19, 2006
Migrant workers can now claim benefits - Irish Independent: "WORKERS from the 10 new EU states are entitled to claim social welfare benefits here if they lose their jobs.
The change in the law came after the EU Commission forced the Government to overturn a decision denying the benefits to EU citizens.
Previously the Government had insisted citizens of other EU countries must live in Ireland for at least two years before qualifying for social welfare payments.
This restriction was part of legislation introduced in 2004 amid fears that EU expansion could lead to so-called 'welfare tourism'.
However, the EU Commission questioned the decision on the basis that workers from EU countries must be treated the same, regardless of which EU country they work in.
The law governing social welfare payments was clarified last November, and now workers can claim the supplementary welfare allowance in the event of losing their jobs.
This SWA payment of ?165.80 can also be topped up with rent allowance and an emergency needs payment if necessary. However, a person must have worked here or in their country of origin to benefit.
Previously, if someone's job fell through the person would have no social welfare entitlements. Without independent means, these people were referred to the Department of Justice which would arrange travel home.
'If a job falls apart after a short while, previous to now you wouldn't have had any links to this country and enough contributions to get benefits,' a spokesperson from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs said. 'Now, under EU law, if you have been a worker here you will now be entitled to supplementary welfare allowance. The idea is you have decided to make Ireland your home and came over to get a job - but something went wrong, as it can do.