Sunday, April 15, 2018

Know Your Rights: Voting in a referendum



Question
How do I check if I can vote in the forthcoming referendum? If I’m not in Ireland on polling day, can I still vote?
Answer
To vote in a referendum, you must be an Irish citizen and be registered to vote. Every local authority is responsible for compiling and publishing a list of voters in its area. This is called the Register of Electors or the electoral register.
In general, Irish citizens living abroad cannot be entered on the Register of Electors and cannot vote in a referendum. The only exception to this is in the case of Irish officials on duty abroad (and their spouses) who may register on the postal voters list. If you are abroad on holiday on polling day, you cannot have a postal vote.
The current Register of Electors came into force on 15 February 2018. You can check if you are on the register at checktheregister.ie or at your local authority, Garda station, post office or public library.
If you are not on the register, you can apply to be added to the supplement to the register. You use Form RFA2, which is available online at checktheregister.ie or from your local authority, post office or public library. To be included in the supplement used at an election or referendum, your local authority must receive your application at least 15 days before polling day. Sundays, public holidays and Good Friday are not counted as days for this purpose.
Local authorities prepare a postal voters list as part of the electoral register. You can only apply for registration as a postal voter if you cannot vote at a polling station because of illness or disability, your occupation, being in prison, or if you are studying full-time in Ireland but away from the address where you are registered to vote.
You can apply to be added to the supplement to the postal voters list up to 22 days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) before polling day in a referendum. The application form for inclusion in the supplement to the postal voters list is available from your local authority or online at checktheregister.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Know Your Rights: Renewing a passport


Question
I have a valid passport, but it will expire two weeks before I go on holiday. Will two weeks give me enough time to get a new one?
Answer
You don’t have to wait until your passport expires to renew it. However, if you apply for a new passport before your current one expires, your new passport is valid from when you apply, rather than from when your previous passport expires.
The website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, dfa.ie, lists the current average processing times for different types of passport applications. The quickest way to renew your passport is by using the online application service. You can use this service to renew your passport if it expires any time in the next 12 months.
You must submit a digital photo with your online application. You can get a friend to take your photo with a digital camera or smartphone or you can go to a photo provider, for example a pharmacy or a photographer, who will give you a copy of your digital photo to upload. Alternatively, you can go to one of the Irish photo booth services listed on passportphoto.ie, which will take your photo and provide you with a code. If you enter this code when applying for your passport online, you don’t need to upload the photo yourself.
Online renewal isn’t available for children’s passports, so if you want to renew your family’s passports together, you have to use Passport Express, the postal application service. There is an extra charge of €9.50 per application for using Passport Express. However, if you are renewing passports for the whole family you can use the 'Family Application' option for €16, where up to four passport applications can be sent in one envelope. Alternatively, you can renew your own passport online and use Passport Express to renew any passports for children.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Know Your Rights: Back to Work Family Dividend



Question
I am getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and have just been offered a job. My husband looks after our two children at home. Can I get any social welfare assistance if I stop signing on and go back to work?
Answer
There is a scheme for people with children who stop claiming a jobseeker's payment, or a one-parent family payment, because they are in – or are taking up – work or self-employment. The scheme is called the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD).
The BTWFD is a weekly payment for up to two years after you start work. For the first year in employment, you are paid the equivalent of any Increase for a Qualified Child that you were getting on your jobseeker’s payment or one-parent family payment (up to a maximum of four children). You get half of that amount weekly for the second year.
To qualify, you must have at least one qualified child and have been getting one of the following payments: Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit (for at least 12 months), One-Parent Family Payment, or Jobseeker’s Transitional payment. You and all members of your family (including your adult dependant) must sign off all primary social welfare payments.
The BTWFD can be paid with other social welfare payments including Working Family Payment (formerly called Family Income Supplement), Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Rent Supplement.
You can get BTWFD for up to two years if you stay in employment. If you or your husband claim a primary social welfare payment within two years of you starting work, the BTWFD payment will stop. If you lose your job and claim a social welfare payment, the BTWFD stops. However, it may restart if you get a new job. You can get a maximum of two restarts per claim.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, March 19, 2018

Know Your Rights: Treatment Abroad Scheme



Question
I know that medical treatments available in Ireland can be accessed in other EU countries instead. What if I need a treatment that is not available in Ireland?

Answer
If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA) and be repaid the cost under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

If you are a public patient and need treatment that is not available to you in Ireland, you may be able to use the Treatment Abroad Scheme to get the treatment in another country in the EEA, or in Switzerland. The Scheme may provide help with your travel fare and, in some cases, the fare for a travelling companion.

You must be referred for treatment abroad by an Irish-based consultant who is treating you as a public patient. You cannot refer yourself or be referred by a GP.

You and the consultant complete an application form and include a copy of your referral letter. Your application must be approved by the Health Service Executive (HSE) before you travel or start treatment abroad. You usually get a decision on your application within 15 to 20 working days.

If your application is approved, the HSE will issue a form called E112. This authorises treatment abroad so that you do not have to make any payment to the healthcare provider. The treatment you have abroad must be in public healthcare under a registered medical practitioner. It must be in a recognised hospital or other institution that accepts the form E112. If you don’t have the form when you attend at your appointment, you may be charged and not be refunded. Any treatments or consultations that are not pre-approved will not be covered.  The Ombudsman has produced a report that suggests improvements to the application and appeals process. It recommends that, by the end of February 2018,  the HSE produce a plan and schedule for making the suggested changes.

To apply for the scheme, contact the Treatment Abroad Scheme Office for an application form. You can get the contact details for your area by calling the HSE Infoline on the Callsave number 1850 24 1850 or online at hse.ie/treatmentabroad. Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, March 5, 2018

Know Your Rights: Part-time work and social welfare payments



Question
 I’m working part-time on a low wage. Do I qualify for any social welfare payments?

Answer
It depends on your personal circumstances. Many people work part-time before taking up full-time employment. If you are working part-time you can, in some cases, keep or apply for a partial social welfare payment, or you may qualify for additional supports.

If you work over 38 hours in a fortnight and you have children you may be able to claim Working Family Payment (WFP), formerly known as Family Income Supplement or FIS. WFP is a weekly tax-free payment for people on low pay.

You may be able to claim a jobseeker’s payment for the days you are not working. You can work part-time for up to three days a week and claim a reduced Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance payment. You may qualify for the Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme if you were getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and find part-time work for less than 24 hours per week.  However, one of the main conditions for getting a jobseeker’s payment is that you must be available for work and actively seeking work. This means that you must continue to look for work on the days you are unemployed. You must also be unemployed for at least four days out of seven consecutive days.

If you return to work after a period of unemployment, you may qualify for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) which aims to help families move from social welfare into employment. The BTWFD and WFP can be paid together and the BTWFD is not taken into account in the means test for WFP.
If you are parenting alone and getting a One-Parent Family Payment, you are allowed to earn a certain amount each week and keep your payment. In some cases, people getting disability payments can do some work and keep a social welfare payment.

You can get more information on your options from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Know Your Rights: Cohabiting and social welfare payments


Question
I applied for a means-tested Jobseeker’s Allowance, but I was told that I’m not eligible because of my partner’s earnings. Why is this? We live together but we are not married and we split our expenses equally.

Answer
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) treats married and unmarried couples in the same way when assessing entitlement to a means-tested social welfare payment. It assesses the total income of the household, rather than the circumstances of the individual claimant.

If you are married or are cohabiting, the means of your spouse or partner are also taken into account. This is the case even if only one of you is actually claiming a payment. The DEASP uses detailed definitions and criteria to assess whether a couple are cohabiting and you can read these online at welfare.ie.

The way the means of a couple is assessed can differ slightly, depending on the payment being applied for. For Blind Pension, State Pension (Non-Contributory) and Carer's Allowance, the DEASP adds all of your means together and then halves the total to get the assessable means for each of you. For Jobseeker's Allowance, Disability Allowance, and Farm Assist, the DEASP adds all your combined means together and then assesses the total against the maximum household payment for your circumstances.

If your partner is getting a social welfare payment in their own right, then your means are taken to be half of the total means of yourself and your partner.

Sometimes a certain amount of income, or income from particular sources, is not taken into account. This is called an income disregard. For example, a certain amount of income from employment can be disregarded.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Know Your Rights: Maternity leave



Question
I recently started working in a new job on a part-time basis. I have just learned that I am pregnant – will I be entitled to maternity leave?

Answer
If you are pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to take maternity leave. The entitlement to a basic period of maternity leave from employment applies to all female employees (including casual workers), regardless of how long you have been working for the organisation or the number of hours you work per week.

You are also entitled to additional unpaid maternity leave. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 provide your statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work, including maternity leave.
You are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave together with 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave, which begins immediately after the end of maternity leave.

Your entitlement to pay and superannuation (pension payments) during maternity leave depends on the terms of your contract of employment. Employers are not obliged to pay women who are on maternity leave. You may qualify for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) if you have enough PRSI contributions. However an employee’s contract could provide for additional rights to payment during the leave period, so that, for example, the employee could receive full pay less the amount of Maternity Benefit payable.

If you have a dispute with your employer about maternity leave or if you have been dismissed due to a matter connected with your pregnancy or for claiming your rights under maternity leave legislation, you may make a complaint within six months of the dispute or complaint occurring. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further six months, but only where there is a reasonable cause which prevented the complaint being brought within the normal time limit.
You should apply for Maternity Benefit at least six weeks before your baby's due date. Apply to the Maternity Benefit Section of the DEASP.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000