COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)

Introduction

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was a social welfare payment for employees and self-employed people who lost all their employment due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

From 25 March 2022, people getting PUP will start moving to a jobseeker's payment. You will continue to get your PUP payment until your application for a jobseeker's payment has been processed by the DSP.

PUP is paid every Tuesday into a bank account, credit union or post office.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate by your GP or the HSE, you should apply for COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

You can find out more about COVID-19 and social welfare payments.

You may be asked to confirm your eligibility for PUP.

How long will PUP continue?

Since 22 January 2022, PUP is closed to new applicants.

If you are getting PUP and another social welfare weekly payment, PUP will end on 25 February 2022 with the last payment on Tuesday, 1 March 2022.

From 25 March 2022, people getting PUP will start moving to a jobseeker's payment. However, for some people PUP will end before this date as rates are gradually reduced - see 'Rate of payment' below.

Who can get COVID-19 PUP?

You can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if:

  • You lost your job or are temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 restrictions between 7 December 2021 and 22 January 2022

Or

  • You are self-employed and your trading income ceased or reduced due to the COVID-19 restrictions between 7 December 2021 and 22 January 2022, and you are available to take up full-time employment

You must also:

  • Be aged between 18 and 66
  • Be living in Ireland
  • Be genuinely seeking work
  • Not be getting any income from an employer

Students and people living in Direct Provision who have lost employment due to the current COVID-19 public health restrictions can also qualify.

If you have been getting PUP since 8 July 2021, you will continue to get it as long as you are eligible. However, it is being reduced to bring it in line with current jobseeker’s payments (see ‘Rate of payment’ below).

You can find more information in the DSP guidelines about who can qualify for PUP.

You may lose your PUP payment if you:

  • Refuse to return to work following lay off
  • Refuse an offer of suitable employment
  • Refuse or fail to engage with activation measures – this can include training that will help you find a job

Redundancy payments

If you get a redundancy payment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are eligible to apply for PUP. This applies to both voluntary and compulsory redundancy. If you were temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 and later get a redundancy payment, you are eligible for PUP as long as you continue to meet all the other eligibility criteria. Your redundancy payment does not impact your eligibility for the payment.

Cross-border workers

A cross-border or frontier worker is any employed or self-employed person who works in one jurisdiction and lives in another. Living in another jurisdiction means that you return to your home country every day, as a rule, or at least once a week. If a frontier worker loses their job, they should claim unemployment benefits from the country they are living in.

Workers who live in Northern Ireland cannot apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

If you are self-employed

If you are self-employed, you can earn up to €960 over 8 weeks and keep your PUP payment.

The €960 limit is based on gross income (before tax and PRSI) minus expenses. You do not need to apply to or notify the DSP that you are earning below this amount over 8 weeks.

If your earnings go over €960 in an 8-week period, you must stop your PUP payment. You must keep evidence of your earnings for inspection.

If you earn over €960 over 8 weeks and you work less than 24 hours a week, you can apply for the COVID-19 Part Time Job Incentive for the Self-Employed.

PUP and other social welfare payments

If you were getting PUP and another social welfare weekly payment, your PUP ended on 25 February 2022 with the last payment on Tuesday, 1 March 2022.

PUP and an Increase for a Qualified Adult

If your spouse's or partner's social welfare payment includes an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) for you, they can keep the IQA while you are getting PUP.

Back to Education Allowance and PUP

People getting PUP since July 2021 can qualify for the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA). You do not have to satisfy the usual time limits for BTEA. For example, you may qualify for BTEA for a 3rd level course even if you have been getting PUP for less than 9 months. You must be entering the first year of your course.

You will have to transfer to a jobseeker's payment (for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance) before you can get BTEA, and your BTEA rate will be based on your qualifying payment.

PUP and Maternity Benefit

If you are getting PUP, you are treated as if you are in employment when you apply for Maternity Benefit. You submit your Maternity Benefit application as normal. Your maternity leave should start no later than 2 weeks before the end of the week in which your baby is due.

If you are still getting a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment when you are due to begin your maternity leave, you must close your claim and claim Maternity Benefit. You should ask your GP to complete form MB3 to send along with your application.

If you lost your employment due to public health restrictions while you were getting Maternity Benefit (MB) and your MB finishes on or after 22 January 2022, you can apply for PUP, if you meet the qualifying criteria. You can get an application form by emailing forms@welfare.ie or contacting the National Intreo Contact Centre on 0818 405 060.

PUP and travel abroad

If you are getting PUP, you must notify the Department of Social Protection before going abroad. You can contact the National Intreo Contact Centre on 0818 405 060 and a note can be made on your PUP claim. If you are abroad for more than 2 weeks, you will not continue to be eligible for PUP unless the extended absence has been approved.

Rate of payment from 8 March 2022

The rate of COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is linked to your previous earnings. You do not need to contact the DSP about your earnings. The DSP has access to this information from Revenue.

There is no payment for adult or child dependants.

Weekly PUP rate for people getting PUP since July 2021

Average weekly earnings Personal rate
€400 or over €208
€300 - €399.99 €208

From 8 March 2022, if you were getting a PUP rate of €250 per week, your PUP rate will reduce to €208 per week.

Weekly PUP rate for people who lose their employment on or after 7 December 2021
Average weekly earnings Personal rate
€151.50 and over €208
Less than €151.50 €150

The Department of Social Protection will use Revenue data to check your employment earnings.

From 8 March 2022, if you were getting a PUP rate of €350, €300 or €250 per week, your PUP rate will reduce to €208 per week.

Employee earnings assessment

If you are getting PUP since 8 July 2021 and you are an employee, your average gross weekly earnings are assessed in 3 separate periods – from January to December 2019, from January to February 2020 and from January to September 2020. The higher figure is used.

For example, if your average gross weekly earnings were €210 in January to February 2020 and €195 in January to September 2020, the figure of €210 will be used. Similarly, if your average gross weekly earnings in 2019 were higher than in 2020, the 2019 figure will be used.

Self-employment earnings assessment

If you are getting PUP since 8 July 2021 and you are self-employed, your average weekly income in 2018 or 2019 was used to decide your rate of payment.

If your income from self-employment was only from 2020, your PUP rate will be €208. The amount you earned during the year or when you earned it does not affect your rate.

Requesting a review of your PUP rate

If you feel that it may make a difference to your rate, you can request a review of your payment from the DSP.

To request a review of your rate, you should email PUPRerate@welfare.ie. You can also write to PUP Rerate Requests, Department of Social Protection, Intreo Centre, Cork Road, Waterford. You should include all supporting documentation with your request.

Tax and PRSI

Tax

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is taxable. However, the amount of tax you are liable to pay depends on your overall income during the year. You will not pay tax, if your tax liability is less than your tax credits and allowances.

Taxation of PUP in 2020

In 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was assessed for income tax and USC at the end of the year. You can get your Preliminary End of Year Statement for 2020 from Revenue. The statement shows your income tax and USC for 2020. It tells you whether you have underpaid or overpaid your tax for 2020. If you have underpaid your tax, you can:

  • Arrange to fully or partially repay the tax due using myAccount or
  • Revenue can collect the underpayment by reducing your tax credits over a period of 4 years, starting in January 2022

You will not have to pay interest on any underpayment.

Revenue has more information on the taxation of PUP paid in 2020.

Taxation of PUP in 2021 and 2022

In 2021 and 2022, PUP is treated like other taxable social welfare payments. It is taxed in real-time. This means it is taxed as it is paid. The tax due is collected by reducing your tax credits and rate band. This can limit any additional liabilities at the end of the year.

Revenue has more information about the taxation of PUP.

PRSI

You will be deemed to have paid PRSI contributions at the same class that you were paying immediately before you were laid off while you are getting the payment. This will help you to qualify for other social welfare payments such as Jobseeker’s Benefit, Maternity and Adoptive Benefit.

If you are self-employed, you will be awarded 52 annual contributions when you make your annual tax return (including any S Class payment due) in the normal way.

Confirming your eligibility for PUP

The Department of Social Protection can ask you to provide evidence that you continue to be eligible for PUP.

If you are contacted by the Department and asked to provide evidence of your eligibility for PUP you should do this online at MyWelfare.ie.

If you are still eligible for PUP, you will continue to get your payment as normal. If you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, you must close your PUP claim. You can close your claim on MyWelfare.ie.

The Department does not ask you for your bank account or financial institution account details as part of the process.

If you have questions, you can contact the National Intreo Contact Centre on 0818 405 060.

Appeals

If you applied for PUP and you didn't get a payment, you can get more information on possible reasons for this on gov.ie.

If you think you have been wrongly refused the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you can appeal this decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Returning to work

You must close your claim for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment on the day you start work.

You can close your claim for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment online using MyWelfare.ie.

If you have questions about closing your claim, you can contact the National Intreo Contact Centre on 0818 405 060.

If you applied for the COVID19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and your employer has re-employed you under the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme or the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, you must close your claim for the payment. You can close your claim using MyWelfare.ie.

If you are self-employed and have closed your COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, you may be able to get an Enterprise Support Grant of up to €1000.

You can find more information about supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

How to apply

Since 22 January 2022, PUP is closed to new applicants.

From 25 March 2022, people getting PUP will start moving to a jobseeker's payment.

Page edited: 8 April 2022