The Community Employment (CE) programme is designed to help people who are long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people to get back to work by offering part-time and temporary placements in jobs based within local communities. Participants can take up other part-time work during their placement. After the placement, participants are encouraged to seek permanent part-time and full-time jobs elsewhere based on the experience and new skills they have gained while in a Community Employment scheme. The Community Employment programme is administered by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).
Community Employment sponsors - the voluntary organisations or public bodies that manage CE schemes - plan and manage CE placements. They sponsor local or community projects that meet an identified community need.
Since 2013 there is a CE Childcare Training and Development Programme for CE participants who wish to pursue a career in childcare. It is a 3-year programme of formal learning and work experience leading to a NFQ Level 5 qualification in early childhood care and education.
There are 2 different categories of Community Employment (CE), each with its own set of eligibility requirements. These are the Part-time Integration Option and the Part-time Job Option. You can participate in either of these options but not in both at the same time. There are maximum time limits for Community Employment participation - 3 years for people aged under 55 and 6 years for people aged over 55. If you are getting one of the specified disability payments you may be eligible for an additional year’s participation. Time spent on CE before 3 April 2000 is not counted in these participation limits.
Under a pilot scheme starting on 4 January 2016 new and existing CE participants aged 62 and over may be eligible to participate on Community Employment continuously until they reach State pension age.
The CE Part-time Integration Option allows you to work under the Community Employment scheme for a maximum of 1 year. It may be possible to have your one-year placement extended by another year, subject to DSP approval and the availability of places and budget. Generally participants complete their one-year placement and then seek a permanent full-time or part-time job elsewhere.
You may qualify for participation in the CE Part-time Integration Option if:
You are aged 25 years or older and:
You are aged 18 years and over and:
The CE Part-Time Job Option provides participants with part-time work placements for 1 year initially, with annually renewable contracts for another 2 years, subject to DSP approval and the availability of places and budget. This option is designed to give extended access to employment to older people who may have been unable to secure regular employment for some time.
You may qualify for participation in the CE Part-Time Job Option if:
You are aged 35 years or older and you:
You are 18 years of age or over and:
In general, the eligibility period is 1 year for the Part-time Integration Option and 3 years for the Part-time Job Option.
If you were getting Carer's Allowance this can also count towards the eligibility period but your caring responsibilities must have ceased and you must currently be getting either JA, JB. JST or OFP.
The spousal swap option is no longer open to new CE participants since 16 September 2013. People currently availing of a swap with a qualified adult are not affected.
The average number of working hours for placements is 39 hours per fortnight. You are paid weekly by your sponsor and 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. 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. More information is available in the Community Employment Procedures Manual.
Age limit: Funding is not provided for CE participants who have reached the qualifying age for a State pension, that is:
Childcare: If you need childcare in order to become a CE participant, you may be eligible for the Community Employment Childcare (CEC) programme. It provides subsidised childcare places for children up to the age of 13. You should contact your sponsor for more details about the CEC programme.
Since 16 January 2012 new participants on Community Employment (CE) schemes cannot claim another social welfare payment at the same time. New participants are people who have not been employed on a CE scheme in the previous 12 months.
Existing participants on One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit, disability payments and widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pensions will continue to get their social welfare payment until they are no longer eligible to participate in a CE scheme or they leave the scheme voluntarily.
Qualified child increases: Since 20 February 2012 if a person is on a CE scheme and getting One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit or Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension, payment of 2 qualified child increases ceased for both new and existing participants. Existing participants get the qualified child increase on their social welfare payment and get the personal rate for a CE participant. New CE participants get the qualified child increase with their CE payment.
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) or Farm Assist in their own right, they can claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult with their JA, DA or Farm Assist. Your income from the CE scheme (as a single person) is then assessed as insurable employment against their payment.
You will retain your medical card.
You will retain an entitlement to the extra benefits you were receiving immediately before going onto Community Employment provided you continue to satisfy the conditions for these benefits.
The Department of Social Protection offers grants to sponsors towards the cost of hiring people under the scheme.
The minimum weekly payment for new participants based on 19.5 hours worked is €210.50 with effect from 4 January 2016.
From January 2016, if the actual social welfare payment (including dependants) you were getting was €188 a week or less, then you will get the minimum CE weekly rate of €210.50 (that is €188 plus €22.50). If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependants) was €188.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €22.50.
Additional income: If you have any additional income, for example, from part-time work, it will not affect your CE payment. However, the rules on change of circumstances that apply to your original social welfare payment also apply to your CE payment. For example, if your qualified adult gets a job, their income will be assessed as means and your CE payment may be reduced. Your CE payment cannot be reduced below the minimum rate of €210.50.
In order to avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should 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.) There is more information about change of circumstances in section 3.2.6 of the Community Employment Procedures Manual.
Spouses or partners and CE: 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.
There are a limited number of Community Employment (CE) places available. If you want to participate in a CE scheme contact your local employment services office or Intreo centre for information about CE job opportunities. Job listings are also available online.
Voluntary organisations and public bodies may sponsor CE projects which are for community and public benefit. They should contact their local employment services office or Intreo centre for more information.
Leaving and re-entry to Community Employment
If you leave a CE scheme, you cannot participate in another CE scheme for 12 months after you leave and you must be getting a qualifying payment for those 12 months. If you are being re-engaged, that is, if you are continuing for another year on your CE scheme, you are not required to have this 12-month break.
If you have the opportunity of full-time work you can take one period of temporary unpaid leave with your sponsor’s agreement for up to 26 weeks. If the work opportunity continues beyond 26 weeks, you must leave the CE scheme.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.