In this fast moving world, years pass very quickly, any length of time out of the workforce may leave you feeling left behind. Confidence may be shaken, and skills may become rusty. One of the responses to overcome these barriers is the Community Employment (CE) Programme – otherwise known as the CE Scheme. This initiative began in 1994 and has assisted long-term unemployed jobseekers find a path back to the workplace. In addition, it provides an excellent support to the delivery of our community and voluntary services to the citizens of Waterford.
What is a CE scheme?
CE Schemes are designed to help people who are long-term unemployed (or otherwise disadvantaged) to get back to work by offering part-time and temporary job placements within local communities. From January 2022, you will receive a minimum weekly payment of €230.50 for 19.5 hours worked. After the placement, you are encouraged to look for permanent jobs elsewhere, based on the experience and new skills you have gained while on a Community Employment scheme.
How long do a Scheme last for?
CE placement generally last for one year. However, if you are working towards a major education award, your CE placement can be extended by up to 2 years to complete this award. You won’t get an extension beyond 3 years (or 4 years for people on a disability-linked social welfare payment). You will only be offered places within the Community and Voluntary Sector, that is, not for profit organisations.
Am I eligible for a CE Scheme?
In general, you must be unemployed and aged between 21 and 55 years and be getting any combination of the following payments for at least 12 months:
• Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB)
• Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA)
• Jobseeker’s Transitional payment
• One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
• Deserted Wife’s Benefit
• Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension
• Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Non-Contributory Pension or
• Farm Assist
Other schemes that count towards the qualifying period are:
• Time spent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
• If you were getting basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) before getting one of the payments listed above, the time on SWA can also count towards the qualifying period for CE, provided there are no breaks between different payments
• If you were getting Carer’s Allowance (CA), the time spent on CA can also count towards the eligibility period, but your caring responsibilities must have ceased and you must currently be getting either JA, JB or OFP
• Time spent on a CE-qualifying disability-related payment can count towards the eligibility period, provided there is no break
• Time spent on a recognised training course such as SOLAS/ETB, a VTOS course, Youthreach or in prison may count as part of the qualifying period.
• People on the JobPath programme and the Tús scheme are eligible for CE
However, the following do not count towards the qualifying period for CE:
• Generally, time spent on Gateway, Rural Social Scheme, Springboard or getting Back to Education Allowance will not count towards the eligibility period. There are some exceptions to this, which can be found in the Community Employment procedures manual.
• Time spent as a qualified adult dependant on another person’s claim does not count towards CE eligibility
As previously stated, you can stay on CE for a maximum of 3 consecutive years. It may be possible to re-qualify for CE after a further 12 months on a qualifying payment. CE participants aged 60 years and over may stay continuously on CE up to the age at which they qualify for a State pension, providing there are places available.
They are other ways to qualify for CE, you may still be eligible for the scheme if you are aged 18 years and over and you are:
• Getting Disability Allowance, Blind Pension or Invalidity Pension, or
• Getting Illness Benefit for at least 6 months, or
• A member of the Traveller community, unemployed and getting Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance for any length of time or One-Parent Family Payment for at least 1 year, or
• A person with refugee status and getting any DSP payment for any length of time, or
• Referred following an appropriate assessment according to the National Drugs Rehabilitation Framework protocols, an ex-offender who has been referred by the Probation Service or other designated service, or an ex-offender not referred by a designated service who has been getting JA or JB for 12 months
Can you work while on a CE Scheme?
The simple answer is yes you can! Once you complete the 19.5 hours per week on your scheme you may work outside of these hours for additional payment. You are paid weekly and you have certain statutory employment rights including annual leave, public holidays, maternity leave and a written statement of your terms and conditions of employment. Tax may be deducted from your pay, if applicable, but your CE pay is exempt from the Universal Social Charge.
You are entitled to a maximum of 56 hours (7 full days) of medically certified sick leave in a 52 week period. In general, there is no payment for uncertified sick leave. However, in certain cases the DSP officer may allow, a maximum of 2 uncertified days (8 hours) in any 12 month period. CE participants pay PRSI at Class A8/A9, which counts as a full Class A contribution. If your CE payment is less than €352 a week, you do not pay any employee contribution. If your CE payment is over €352 a week, you pay an employee PRSI contribution.
If you need childcare
If you need childcare in order to become a CE participant, you may register for the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). The NCS is a new Scheme providing financial support to help parents to meet the costs of childcare.
Training and development
You will get training as part of your CE scheme to help improve your ability to get a job when the scheme is over. Everyone on a CE scheme must have an individual learning plan where training is identified. You must be allowed to join in any approved training that has been identified on your individual learner plan. There are a range of recognised QQI Awards and qualifications available to CE participants. If you are between 21 and 55 you must be working towards a QQI Award on the NFQ Framework of Qualifications or an industry equivalent, to be eligible for up to an additional 2 years on CE (maximum total of 3 consecutive years).
Getting other payments and CE
If you get a place on a CE scheme and your spouse or partner is claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA), Disability Allowance (DA) in their own right, they can claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult with their JA, DA. Your income from the CE scheme (as a single person) is then assessed as insurable employment against their payment.
Extra benefits of the CE scheme
You will keep your medical card when you are on CE. You will also keep your entitlement to the extra benefits you were getting immediately before going onto CE, provided you continue to satisfy the conditions for these benefits.
It is important to note, in order to avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should immediately inform your CE supervisor and the local DSP Community Development Officer responsible for your CE scheme. (Your CE supervisor will give you contact details for the local DSP Community Development Officer.)
If your spouses or partner also gets a place on the CE scheme
If you are on a CE scheme and your spouse or partner gets a place on a CE scheme, you will each get a single rate of the CE payment together with half of the Increases for a Qualified Child for any dependent children.
How to apply for the CE scheme?
If you would like to participate in a CE Scheme talk to your DSP Caseworker, or register your interest at the Waterford Intreo Office, Cork Road Waterford 051 356000 / 0818405060. There are a limited number of CE places available, check them out on Jobs Ireland Website www.jobsireland.ie and Waterford City Local Employment Service Website Jobs and Opportunities Page www.wcles.ie or their Facebook page.