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 a CE Childcare Programme is being implemented 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. Places on the CE Childcare Programme are co-ordinated by a dedicated CE-sponsored childcare scheme.
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.
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 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 of 4%.
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. Otherwise they will keep it until the end of December 2014 which is the final cut-off date for getting a concurrent social welfare payment.
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.
Jobseeker's Allowance and CE: If you get a place on a CE scheme and your spouse or partner is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) in their own right, he/she can claim an Increase for a Qualified Adult with their JA. Your income from the CE scheme (as a single person) is then assessed as insurable employment against their JA 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.
Since 16 January 2012 the minimum weekly payment for new participants based on 19.5 hours worked is €208. Those who started a CE scheme before 16 January 2012 will continue to get their existing payment.
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 €208 (that is €188 plus €20). If your actual weekly social welfare payment (including dependants) was €188.01 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €20.
Example: Mary is single and gets a reduced rate of JA (€144). Mary will get €208 a week on CE. Jack currently gets a Farm Assist payment of €305 which includes his wife and two children. Jack will get €325 a week on CE.
The rules that apply to your original social welfare payment also apply to your CE payment. This means that, 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 €208. 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.)
Example: Jim was on JA and got €312.80 a week including a payment for his wife Ann. He gets €332.80 a week on CE. If Ann gets a job, her income will be assessed against Jim’s CE payment. If he is no longer entitled to a qualified adult payment for her, his CE payment will be reduced to the minimum CE rate of €208.
There are a limited number of Community Employment places available. If you want to participate in a Community Employment scheme contact your local employment services office or Intreo centre for information about Community Employment job opportunities. Job listings are also available online.
Voluntary organisations and public bodies may sponsor Community Employment projects which are for community and public benefit. They should contact their local employment services office or Intreo centre for more information.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.