The Back to Work Allowance Scheme encourages unemployed people (among others) to take up employment. The Scheme is aimed at people getting a social welfare payment for a certain period of time.
The Back to Work Allowance scheme is closed to new applicants from 1 May 2009.
People participating in this scheme keep a percentage of their social
welfare payment along with secondary benefits for a period of up to 3
years. The percentage of your payment you keep is called the Back to Work
Allowance. The Back to Work Allowance part of your income is not subject to
taxation or social
insurance (PRSI). Your employer may also qualify for the Employers PRSI Exemption
Scheme (closed from 1 May 2009).
To qualify for the Back to Work Allowance, you must:
You may also qualify, no matter what age you are, if you are getting one of the following payments for 15 months (or 12 months if you are aged 50 or over):
Time spent on FÁS, Failte Ireland, Teagasc, FIT, Community Employment, Job Initiative, 'second chance education courses' (i.e., Back to Education Schemes) and/or time spent in prison are accepted as periods of unemployment.
Also, time spent on Supplementary Welfare Allowance or in Direct Provision can count towards the qualifying period for Back to Work Allowance provided you are entitled to a qualifying payment before starting on the scheme.
Only employers who can provide suitable jobs are eligible to participate. The work being offered must:
Short-term, seasonal or commissioned/contractual work is not acceptable as employment under the Scheme.
If you qualify for the Back to Work Allowance Scheme but do not wish to avail of the scheme your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may participate instead. You must be getting an increase in your social welfare payment for your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant for a specific amount of time. It is usually the same amount of time that you would need to be claiming your payment to qualify for the scheme. For example, if you are getting:
In the case of Jobseeker’s Allowance, when your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant starts on the scheme a separate claim will be set up in their name. When your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant starts on the scheme your JA payment will stop. However, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant can now claim for you as a qualified adult. You should sign for credits at your local social welfare office. It is important to sign on for credits to protect any future pension entitlements you may have. This new arrangement should not affect the amount of social welfare payment you get as a family.
If you (the original owner of the social welfare payment) decide to claim
another social welfare payment at any time while your spouse, civil partner or
cohabitant is availing of this swap the payment of Back to Work Allowance will
If you qualify before 1 May 2009, you will receive support for 3 years (including adult and child dependant allowances) as follows:
In addition you will keep secondary benefits for 3 years, provided you satisfy a household income means test.
Secondary benefits include:
The Back to Work Allowance is not subject to PRSI or income tax deductions.
Financial assistance is available to employees who qualify for the Back to Work Allowance to further their employment potential, for example, help with interviews, literacy or computer skills.
Family Income Supplement may be payable if you have at least one dependant child under the age of 22. This weekly tax free supplement is payable if your income is below a certain limit for your family size. Your Back to Work Allowance and your earnings will be added together when working out your entitlement to Family Income Supplement. Find out more about Family Income Supplement.
The Very Long Term Unemployed Programme is closed from 1 May 2009. Under this programme, if you had been in receipt of a qualifying payment for 5 years or more, you could continue to receive your payment, plus an additional weekly payment of €44.50 per week for up to six weeks while you were getting training from an employer. After this six week period, you transferred to the Back to Work Allowance if you continued to remain in employment. In addition, you also received two payments of €254 when:
The Back to Work Allowance Scheme is closed to new applicants from 1 May
Further information is available from the Department of Social Protection:
Employment Support Services
Social Welfare Services Office
Tel:(071) 967 2616
Locall:1890 92 79 99
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.