What is Tús?
The Tús initiative is a community work placement scheme providing short-term working opportunities for unemployed people. The work opportunities are to benefit the community and are provided by community and voluntary organisations in both urban and rural areas. The Tús initiative is managed by local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta for the Department of Social Protection (DSP), which has overall responsibility for the scheme.
Unemployed people who are eligible to participate in the scheme are selected and contacted by the DSP – see 'Selection process' below.
COVID-19 and Tús
If you are on a Tús scheme and there is no work due to COVID restrictions, you will continue to get paid your Tús payment.
If you were due to exit your Tús scheme since October 2020, your contract has been extended until 31 October 2021.
If you were due to exit your Tús scheme from early November 2021, your contract will be extended until 4 February 2022.
The following rules also apply:
- You are not eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
- You will not be not be eligible for the Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment for COVID-19 absences
- Your employer is not eligible to claim the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) for Tús employees
Type of project
All the work carried out by participants in the Tús scheme will be community-based. The types of project eligible for the scheme can include:
- Environmental services (for example, conservation and maintenance of national walkways)
- Caring services (for example, childcare, care of older people)
- General community services (for example, newsletters or information provision for communities)
- Heritage and cultural services (for example, local heritage projects)
- Educational services (for example, community playgroups)
Allocation of places
The places on the scheme are allocated to community and voluntary organisations involved in the delivery of local services in urban and rural areas – see 'Community and voluntary organisations' below. The allocation is based on the numbers of eligible unemployed people in each local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta area.
Who can take part in Tús?
To be eligible to participate in the Tús scheme you must:
- Have been continuously unemployed for at least 12 months and "signing on" on a full-time basis; and
- Have been receiving a jobseeker's payment (Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance) from the Department of Social Protection for at least 12 months; and
- Be currently receiving Jobseeker's Allowance (JA).
Note: If you are getting JA and have break(s) of up to 30 days in your jobseekers record over the last 12 months, you will still be eligible for Tús.
If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), you may be eligible for a 12-month work placement on the Tús scheme. However, you must first move from PUP to a Jobseeker's Allowance payment.
Most unemployed people who are eligible for the scheme will be identified and contacted by their Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and offered the opportunity to participate in the scheme. Potential participants can also sign themselves up to the scheme.
If you agree to participate in the Tús scheme you will be referred to your local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta where you will be recruited for a suitable placement when it becomes available.
As there are only limited places available on the scheme, not all eligible unemployed people will be contacted.
Participants on Tús can take up other part-time employment, provided it does not interfere with the work of the Tús work placement. If participants are offered full-time alternative work they can terminate their Tús work placement contract.
Refusal of work placement
Under the National Employment Action Plan, if you are getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and are offered a Tús work placement, you must accept it. If you refuse a work opportunity without good reason, you can have your social welfare payment reduced or terminated. If your payment is reduced or terminated for this reason you can appeal this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.
Working conditions and pay
Participants work 19 ½ hours a week and the placement lasts 12 months. You receive the same statutory annual leave and public holiday entitlement as other employees. During the 12 month placement, you can have up to 2 days’ uncertified sick leave and 7 days’ certified sick leave. When the placement finishes, you should sign on again with your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. You cannot participate in the Tús scheme again for 3 years.
Childcare: If you need childcare in order to participate in the Tús scheme, you may be eligible for the After-School Child Care (ASCC) scheme.
Since 25 March 2019 the minimum weekly payment for participants (based on 19.5 hours worked) is €225.50.
If your Jobseeker’s Allowance payment (including increases for dependants) was €203 a week or less, then you will get the minimum Tús weekly rate of €225.50 (that is €203 plus €22.50). If your weekly Jobseeker’s Allowance (including any increases for dependants) was €203 or more, then you will get the equivalent rate plus €22.50 (there are some exceptions to this).
Participants will retain any extra benefits and the medical card, provided they are still eligible.
If you have any additional income, for example, from part-time work, it will not affect your Tús payment. However, the rules that apply to Jobseeker’s Allowance about reporting a change in your circumstances also apply to the Tús payment. In order to avoid any possible overpayments, if there is any change in your circumstances, you should inform your local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta and your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
If your circumstances change, for example, you get married, have a child or change your working hours; you need to let your Tús supervisor know, as it may affect your payment. You also need to let your supervisor know if your dependant gets a job, as their income will be assessed as means and your Tús payment may be reduced. Your payment cannot be reduced below the minimum rate of €225.50. You should complete an EP1 form and give it to your supervisor.
Spouses or partners and Tús
If you get a place on a Tús scheme and your spouse or partner is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, 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 Tús scheme (as a single person) is then assessed as insurable employment against their payment.
If you are on a Tús scheme and your spouse or partner gets a place on a Tús scheme, you will each get a single rate of the Tús payment together with half of the Increases for a Qualified Child for any dependent children.
Tax and PRSI
The Tús payment is taxable but the amount payable depends on individual circumstances.
Class A PRSI contributions will be paid for all participants. Those earning more than €352 a week will pay a PRSI contribution.
Participants on the Tús scheme are exempt from the Universal Social Charge.
Community and voluntary organisations
The work placements are proposed and provided by community and voluntary organisations. The organisations must provide good quality work opportunities that are of benefit to the community. Organisations with a proposed work placement should register with the local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta in their area. They will be asked to submit a proposal detailing the work and the number of participants requested. The local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta will assess and make a decision on the proposal.
The community and voluntary organisations are generally responsible for the costs which are not covered by Tús and they are required to make a contribution. In certain circumstances there may be some funding available from the local development company or Údarás na Gaeltachta for this.
How to apply for Tús
Potential participants will be selected and contacted by their Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office.
Self-referrals should be made to your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.