Know your rights February 2015

citizens information

Know Your Rights A:

Part-time work and PRSI

February 2015

Question

Next week I start working part-time on a schedule that involves working one week on followed by one week off. I have been told that this could cause problems with social insurance records because of when the tax year starts. Can you explain why this is?

Answer

Each year, the Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contribution week starts at the same time as the tax year on 1 January. This means that the PRSI contribution week can differ from the usual Monday to Friday working week. In 2015, 1 January fell on a Thursday. This means that the PRSI contribution week this year starts each Thursday and ends on the following Wednesday.

As you work part-time, you need to be aware of how this may affect you, particularly in the area of social welfare entitlements. If your working week is the same as the PRSI contribution week, starting on Thursday and ending on Wednesday, and you work every second week, then you will not have a PRSI contribution for each week that you are not working.

This could affect your entitlement to social welfare payments including the State Pension (Contributory) which is based on the average number of annual PRSI contributions you have paid since starting work.

To make sure you have the full 52 PRSI contributions you must work at least one day in each contribution week of the year.

For example, if you work Monday to Friday every second week in 20I5 then you will be working when the PRSI contribution week starts on Thursday and so will have a contribution for that week. You will be off work when the next contribution week starts on the next Thursday but will be working again before it ends on the following Wednesday, so you will have a contribution for that week also. Because you are working at least one day in each contribution week you will have all your PRSI contributions paid. Any work pattern where you work at least one day in each Thursday to Wednesday period will ensure that you do not miss paying a PRSI contribution.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights B:

Renewing your passport

February 2015

Question

I have just noticed that my passport is out of date and I am going on a skiing holiday in 2 weeks. Will I be able to renew my passport in time before I travel?

Answer

The time it takes to renew a passport can vary, depending on how you make the application. The Passport Office recommends sending your application using An Post’s Passport Express service. In general, this guarantees that you will get your passport within 10 working days, but it may take longer at busy times of the year. Check passport.ie for current turnaround times. The standard adult passport costs €80 through Passport Express, with a processing charge of €9 – a total charge of €89. You can hand in your completed application at any An Post office.

The Passport Office no longer accepts applications submitted by regular or registered post from applicants living in Ireland and it is not possible to apply online.

Applying in person at the Passport Office costs €95 and is only recommended if you are due to travel in less than ten days. In this case, you can use the Passport Appointment Booking Service, passportappointments.ie. There is an additional urgent fee of €55 if you need your passport issued in 3–5 working days. It is not usually possible to issue a passport in less than three days unless immediate travel is required due to the death or serious illness of a family member or because you need emergency medical treatment.

You can get a passport renewal application form at any Garda station or An Post office. It is not available online.

To avoid forgetting to renew your passport in time, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides a Passport Reminder Service, which sends you a reminder email before your passport is due to expire. You can register for this service at passport.ie.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights C:

Rent increases

February 2015

Question

I have been renting an apartment for over a year and my landlord phoned me last week to tell me that he is increasing my rent. Does he have the right to do this?

Answer

The amount of rent payable for a property is agreed between the landlord and tenant at the start of a tenancy. If you are living in private rented accommodation, under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, your landlord must follow certain procedures if he wants to raise the rent.

Your landlord has the right to review the rent once a year. A rent review can result in an increase or reduction of the rent. Unless the accommodation has changed substantially, it cannot be reviewed more often than this, or during the first 12 months of the tenancy.

Your landlord must give you at least 28 days’ notice of the amount of the proposed new rent and the date from which it is to take effect. The notice must be in writing. Emails, text messages and phone calls are not valid forms of notice.

Threshold, the national housing charity, publishes detailed advice on how to deal with rent increases, including a list of tips on dealing with your landlord. You can contact Threshold for advice on your particular situation by calling 1890 334 334 or through their website, threshold.ie.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) deals with disputes between landlords and tenants, including disputes about rent reviews. If there is any dispute about the amount of rent being proposed, either side can refer the dispute to the PRTB. If the landlord has given you a valid written notice of the rent increase, you must contact the PRTB with your dispute before the date that the new rent comes into effect or within 28 days of getting the notice, whichever is later. There is no time limit if the notice is not valid.

You must continue to pay your current rent until the case has been determined by the PRTB.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights D:

Back to Work Family Dividend

February 2015

Question

I am unemployed, married with three children and getting Jobseeker’s Allowance. I would like to get back to work. I have heard there is a new payment to help with this situation.

Answer

The Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) gives financial support to people with children who were getting jobseeker’s or one-parent family payments and who either take up employment, increase their hours of employment or become self-employed.

The scheme is not yet operational but applications for the scheme are being accepted from 5 January 2015. No payments will be made until April 2015 and all eligible claims will be backdated to the date of application.

If you qualify for the scheme you will get a weekly payment for up to 2 years. You will be paid the equivalent of any Increases for Qualified Children that were being paid on your jobseeker or one-parent family payment (up to a maximum of 4 children) for the first year in employment. Half of that amount will be paid weekly for the second year.

You can combine time on a jobseeker’s payment with time spent on education, training or employment schemes to meet the eligibility requirements.

To qualify, you and all members of your family (including your adult dependant) must sign off all social welfare payments. The Back to Work Family Dividend cannot be paid with any other primary social welfare payment – with the exception of Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Family Income Supplement (FIS). The Back to Work Family Dividend is not taken into account in the means test for FIS.

You can contact your Intreo centre or local social welfare office to get more information on the scheme.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

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