This scheme is closed to new applications from 1
st May 2009 as a result of the Supplementary Budget of 7th April, 2009. Pre 1/5/2009 claims who continue to satisfy the criteria of the scheme will remain in payment.
See separate Guidelines for the
Back To Work Enterprise Allowance (Self-Employed)
PART 1: GENERAL
1.1 Description of Scheme
1.2 Information Leaflet
PART 2: ENTITLEMENT
2.1 Qualifying Conditions
2.2 Qualifying Periods that count
2.3 Qualifying From a Combination of Payments
2.4 Extending the Period in Receipt of Social Welfare
2.5 Qualified Adults Spousal Swap
2.8 Nature of Employment
2.9 Changing Jobs or going Self-Employed
2.10 Rates Structure
2.11 Extra Benefits
PART 3: CLAIMS AND PROCEDURES
3.4 Request for Review of Entitlement (Appeals)
3.7 Continuing Payment after a Death in the Family
3.9 National Minimum Wage
3.10 Health & Safety Benefit
Appendix 1 - Budget Changes since 1997
Appendix 2 - National Minimum Wage Act 2000
PART 1: GENERAL
1.1 Description of Scheme
Back to Work Allowance Scheme (
was introduced in 1993 to encourage the long term unemployed to take up employment opportunities by allowing them to retain a reducing proportion of their social welfare payment plus secondary benefits over three years.
The allowance is paid on a reducing scale over the three year period, i.e., 75% of a person's social welfare payment in year one, 50% in year two and 25% in year three.
Self-employed persons are paid a similar payment - the
Back To Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) - over a four year period with 100% being paid in the first year, followed by three years as outlined above.
(See separate BTWEA Guidelines).
For information purposes, details of budget changes to the scheme from 1997 are contained at
1.2 Information leaflets:
: Back To Work Allowance
: Back To Work Enterprise Allowance
These information leaflets also incorporate the appropriate application forms (
BTW 1 &
BTW 2 respectively).
The Back to Work Allowance Scheme is a non-statutory scheme approved by Government. Government Decision
S.27511B of 21 Iuil 1993 refers.
The scheme is administered by:
Back to Work Allowance Section
Department of Social Protection
Carrick on Shannon
Telephone Number: (071) 9672698
Fax : (071) 9672553
PART 2: ENTITLEMENT
2.1 Qualifying conditions
Applicants must satisfy the following conditions immediately prior to commencing employment:
In receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance/Benefit for two years, and aged 23 years or older. Applicants must establish an entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance.
In receipt of One-Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, Blind Person's Pension, Carer's Allowance (on ceasing caring duties), Farm Assist, Invalidity Pension, Unemployability Supplement, Pre-Retirement Allowance, Widows/Widowers Non Contributory Pension, Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, and Prisoners Wife's Allowance for at least 15 months (12 months if aged 50 or over),
In receipt of Illness Benefit for three years or more.
A minimum of 20 hours work per week is required.
In addition to those listed above the following may also be considered for participation in the scheme:
- Persons who have recently commenced farming and who are in receipt of Farm Assist.
- For applicants who are on the Live Register for at least two years, the age condition (23 years) may be reduced on the recommendation of the Social Family Support Services Facilitator.
In the absence of such a recommendation the application would be disallowed.
- Part Time Job Initiative scheme recipients can qualify for
BTWA if they work at least 20 hours per week. They must sign off and will receive 75% of their
PTJI weekly rate.
- Casual signers can qualify for
BTWA if they work at least 20 hours per week. They must sign off and will receive 75% of the average weekly payment over the previous eight weeks. Casual signers require 624 days on the Live Register to qualify.
2.2 Qualifying Periods that count;
- Periods spent on
FÁS / Fáilte Ireland training courses, Community Employment, Social Economy Programme, Rural Social Scheme,
FÁS Jobs Initiative, and
VTOS, count towards the qualifying period
provided they are preceded by a qualifying payment.
- Time spent on the Community Services Programme can qualify as a period of unemployment. However 50% of the qualifying period must have been spent in receipt of a qualifying Social Welfare Payment. Time spent on the
CSP must be preceded by a qualifying payment.
- Periods spent in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance and Direct Provision count towards the qualifying period
provided the applicant establishes an entitlement to a relevant
SW payment prior to commencing on the scheme.
- Periods spent as Qualified Adult for (1), (2) and (3) above count towards the qualifying period once a person has established an entitlement to a qualifying Social Welfare payment.
- The qualifying period for Back to Work Allowance for ex-prisoners is 15 months (12 months if aged over 50). Periods spent in prison in the state can be taken as, or, count towards the qualifying period once an entitlement to a qualifying Social Welfare payment is established.
- Periods spent on Live Registers in the
E.U. can be accepted as periods of unemployment provided the applicant has signed the Live Register here for at least 13 weeks since their return.
(Periods spent on Revenue 'Job Assist' are
NOT considered as periods of unemployment).
2.3 QUALIFYING FOR
BTWEA - from a combination of payments.
From 1 March 2006 in cases where a combination of payments are required to make up the qualifying period it is no longer a condition to have at least half of the period in receipt of
JB. All qualifying payments will be treated in the same regard. For example:
BTWA applicant in receipt of
JA for 4 weeks with a combination of
OPFP making up the balance of the 2 years required will now qualify for
BTWA. (Under the previous conditions the applicant would not have qualified as half of the qualifying period was not
Illness Benefit shall be restored to a person who qualifies for Back to Work Allowance from
IB and subsequently wishes to revert during the lifespan of
2.4 EXTENDING THE PERIOD IN RECEIPT OF SOCIAL WELFARE IN ORDER TO SATISFY THE QUALIFYING PERIOD.
From 1 March 2006 the following consideration will be given to persons who do not have the required period in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment:
2 out of 3 years in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment.
3 out of 5 years in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment.
Qualifying from all other payments
15 months out of 2 years in receipt of a qualifying payment.
Applicants for the
BTW VLTU scheme (very long term unemployed) which requires 5 years in receipt of a qualifying payment will continue to qualify if they are 5 out of 7 years in receipt of a qualifying payment.
2.5 Qualified Adults - Spousal Swap
Where a person is partaking in the
BTWA scheme and they cease employment or self employment before exhausting entitlement their qualified adult may avail of the entitlement under the scheme for the duration remaining on the original claim.
For the purpose of these arrangements, known as a spousal swap, an adult dependant is a spouse in respect of whom a qualified adult allowance is payable. "Spouse" includes each of a married couple who are living together or a man and a woman who are not married to each other but are cohabiting as husband and wife.
Qualified adults whose spouse/partner is eligible (this involves the customer and their spouse/partner exchanging places) as follows:
(i) the Qualified Adult does not need to be in receipt of a Social Welfare payment to become eligible
(ii) for the purposes of a spousal swap, to be considered as a qualified adult the person has to be an adult dependent of a qualifying payment for the specified period, for example :
JB a qualified adult for two years
- Illness Benefit a qualified adult for three years
- Disability Allowance, Blind Person's Pension, Carer's Allowance (on ceasing caring duties), Farm Assist, Invalidity Pension, Incapacity Supplement, Pre-Retirement Allowance, Widows/Widowers Non-Contributory Pension, Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, and Prisoners Wife's Allowance a qualified adult for at least 15 months (or 12 months if aged over 50)
(iii) when the Qualified Adult commences
BTWA, a separate claim should be set up in his/her name. S/he can claim an increase for the existing
JA recipient, who should sign for credits instead. There should be no loss suffered by the couple when entering this arrangement.
It is of vital importance that the existing recipient is made aware of the importance of credits in keeping his/her record up to date. It is usual that this persom will have the principal social insurance record in the household on which future pension entitlements will be based. The normal rules for entitlement will apply to persons whose partner is on
In the case of a spousal swap - if the original owner of the social welfare payment decides to claim another social welfare payment during the lifespan of the spousal swap, the
Must Cease as
BTW cannot be claimed concurrently with another social welfare payment.
- Persons who leave the country are no longer entitled to this allowance.
- Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas are not eligible to participate on the scheme.
Persons are generally allowed to resume the
BTWA once. In exceptional cases and with due explanation, an applicant may be allowed resume the
BTWA for a second time. (Participation in seasonal employment should NOT be allowed in this way - see below).
In this way, persons simply resume where they left off. Once entitlement to the allowance has been previously established it is not necessary to be in receipt of a qualifying payment for a specified period. However, it is necessary to be in receipt of a social welfare payment immediately prior to commencing employment. The rate of payment is based on first qualifying social welfare claim.
2.8 Nature of employment:
Payment can be made in respect of all jobs unless there is evidence that the employer laid off an employee in order for the
BTWA applicant to qualify for the Allowance. Where there is doubt the application should be referred to the local
SFSS Facilitator for investigation.
Commission-based, seasonal, temporary, or part-time work under 20 hours per week is not acceptable for the Back To Work Allowance.
A minimum of 20 hours work per week is required.
The job must be lasting and sustainable, with a commitment from the employer that it will last at least
one year. It must not be a vacancy caused by another employee taking Sick or Maternity Leave, taking a Career Break, going job-sharing (even where a 40hr week job is split into 20hrs x 2) or working week-on / week-off.
Participants of internships following FIT (Fastrack to IT) are also eligible for Back to Work Allowance. However
BTWA will not be paid during periods of work experience in respect of which
VTOS allowances are paid.
Northern Ireland employers are acceptable as approved employers, provided that the applicant resides in the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Ireland minimum wage will apply.
BTWA cannot be paid in respect of
FÁS CE Scheme Supervisors (or Assistants) and/or
CE, or Community Services Programme participants or supervisors. The Department of Finance would regard this as "double-funding".
Where appropriate, jobs approved under the scheme must satisfy the
National Statutory Minimum Wage requirement as specified by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment. See
Appendix for certain exceptions to the National Minimum Wage.
The FÁS Initiative scheme and the
Revenue Job Assist scheme cannot be availed of in conjunction with the
Back to Work Enterprise Allowance participants can avail of
Employment Grants from a County Enterprise Board (CEB) or
LEADER Employment Grants and receive the
BTWA. However, their employees cannot avail of the
BTWA if the employer is receiving
CEB / LEADER Grants in respect of them.
2.9 Changing Jobs or going Self-Employed:
- Provided that there is no break in the
BTWA claim, a
BTWA claimant is free to move to any other employer. The claimant must notify the Local Office of the new employer details.
- If there is a break in the claim and the claimant signs the Live Register the next employer is considered to be a 'new' employer. A new
BTW 1 must be completed. The claimant will qualify for the balance of their
- The same applies when a self-employed person takes up employment. The Local Office must be notified immediately of the new employer details. A
BTW 1 should be completed. The claimant will qualify for the
balance of their
BTWA (from the 75%-50%-25% range only).
- Employees may become self-employed provided that they complete a
BTW 2 and have their project approved by the Jobs Facilitator or Partnership Company. These claimants
MAY receive one year's
BTWEA at 100%. They shall then resume normal payments at the point at which they left off
2.10 Rates Structure:
- The claimant is paid a portion of their previous social welfare entitlement - 75% in Year 1, 50% in Year 2 and 25% in Year 3. Since 1 January 1998, those opting for self employment receive 4 year's support, thus - 100%-75%-50%-25%.
- Claimants coming from
JB are paid the appropriate portion of their latest
JA entitlement. This applies to persons going from
BTWA. These rates are set and do not vary, except where a qualified adult makes a claim for Social Welfare in his/her own right. (See also under Maintenance / Review).
- Applicants who have been in receipt of
JB only receive 75%-50%-25% of their Primary payment. (The ½ Rate
- BTWA applicants previously in receipt of
Max. Pay (i.e. ½ the married rate) should receive 75% of their Max. Pay amount. The
JA clt. should immediately be subject to a Means Review. (Every reasonable effort should be made to have the clts. merge their
JA claims prior to
2.11 Extra Benefits:
Participants in the Scheme
retain any secondary benefits they were in receipt of prior to participation (provided they satisfy a household income means test).
Participants in the scheme may retain any secondary benefits they were in receipt of prior to participation such as Christmas Bonus, Fuel Allowance, Medical Card, Back to School Clothing & Footware allowance, Diet Supplement, Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement under the Supplementary Allowance Scheme.
Any increase in income may affect your rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement. Income in excess of the first €75.00 of weekly earnings you or your spouse or partner get is assessable for Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement. (Any amount in excess of the €75.00 disregard is assessed at 75%).
Contact your local Department of Social Protection Office administering Supplementary Welfare Allowance to see how your Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement may be affected.
from the Department of Social Protection:
- Christmas Bonus
- Fuel Allowance (incl. SMOG)
from the Health Service Executive:
- Medical Card (no income limit)
- Back To School Clothing & Footwear Allowance
- Rent/Mortgage Interest Supplement (tapering out over four years: 75%->50%->25%->25%)
Where a person moves from one programme to another, for example from Community Employment to Back-to Work Allowance, the four year cycle dates from the commencement of the first programme, Community Employment in this example.
from the Local Authority:
- Differential Rents
Note: Half Rate Carers Allowance cannot be paid with BTWA but a Qualified Adult may have an entitlement.
- FREE Schemes are NOT regarded as Secondary Benefits. Former recipients of Invalidity Pension and Disability Allowance
RETAIN their Free Schemes (e.g. Free Travel, Free TV Licence, Free Electricity Allowance).
- Former recipients of Carers Allowance
DO NOT RETAIN these Free Schemes.
- Back to Work Allowance recipients (also other SW recipients who do not qualify for BTW) may also be eligible for
- Technical Assistance & Training Grants,
- Employment Grants for Self-Employed
BTWA claimants to employ
new BTWA participants.
- Credit Union Loan Guarantee Fund
Further details on the above Grants/Loans are available from the local Jobs Facilitator, to whom application should be made.
Employers taking on persons under the Back To Work Allowance may qualify for the
EMPLOYERS PRSI EXEMPTION SCHEME.
PRSI 16 should be used for this purpose. Information leaflet
SW 73 refers.
The Back To Work Allowance is not subject to tax or
PRSI. However, the salary/wages and income from self-employment may be subject to Tax/
PART 3: CLAIMS AND PROCEDURES
Applications from those receiving Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit, Back To Work Enterprise Allowance and Farm Assist and Pre-Retirement Allowance are dealt with by the Department's local offices.
All other applications should be sent directly to
Applications should be submitted 14 days before the employment commences, in order to be approved.
However, applications MAY be accepted up to ONE month after work commencing, provided that the claimant has signed off at the appropriate time. This is particularly appropriate where there is corroborating evidence that the claimant expressed an interest in the
BTWA while signing off or where there is evidence that the application was delayed by the employer.
Lack of knowledge of the scheme is not, in itself, an acceptable explanation for a late claim. The
BTWA must have been instrumental in the claimant deciding to leave the Live Register. The best evidence of this is that they apply on commencement of work or within one month thereof.
Applications can be accepted outside the one month limit where the employer or a company acting on it's behalf, e.g. accountants, submits a statement accepting responsibility for the delay in submitting the claim. These claims should be allowed from the date of receipt in the Department.
Under NO circumstances can a claimant, who has already exhausted full entitlement to
BTWA, re-qualify for
BTWA. However, is a
BTWA claimant later becomes self-employed they may be entitleed to one year's payment of
BTWEA at 100%.
Under NO circumstances can a person qualify for more than three years (as an employee) or four years (as a self-employed person) on any one claim or a combination of claims.
BTWA recipient ceases to claim
BTWA, the claim should not be purged from ISTS for at least five years.
BTWA can be paid in respect of a job previously worked under the
CES 'Jobs Initiatives' Scheme (i.e. when the JI runs out the
BTWA can be paid in respect of that same job).
Part 6 of the application form
must be completed fully by the employer before a decision on an application can be made.
Claims are decided by Clerical Officers at Local Office level for Live Register cases. All other cases are dealt with by Back to Work Section.
BTWA Awards Processing:
* Claim is checked to ensure that all necessary details have been provided (e.g. bank A/c details etc.) Incomplete forms must be returned to the applicant.
* Particular attention should be paid to:
(a) Nature of business - must look lasting and sustainable.
*Seasonal work is not acceptable (Landscaping, School Bus Drivers, School Teachers, Meat processing, some Tourist related industries)
*Some companies have a bad record for high turnover of staff, letting people go etc.
Note: Where a claim is disallowed initially on the basis that it is not a sustainable job,
BTWA can be subsequently allowed if the job materialises into a permanent post (from the date of permanency).
(b) No of hours - 20 hours or more per week
(c) Duration - one of the three boxes must be ticked.
*3/6/9 month contracts are not acceptable. However "long-term permanent" employment subject to 3/6 monthly reviews is acceptable.
(d) Gross weekly wage - no less than the National Minimum Wage €8.65 per hour - see also under Miscellaneous below.
(e) State/Local Authority funding:
FÁS Jobs Initiatives, Revenue Job Assist & CEB Employment Grants are OUT. All others are acceptable - Údarás, Forbairt, ESF, Horizon,
DSFA/Dept.Health Grants, etc.
* Claim is checked for qualifying conditions (age, details of job, late application, period on LR etc.)
SW details are checked on ISTS/Penlive.
* If all is in order a Decision Sheet is completed and the applicant is notified.
* A review date of 12 months hence is entered.
Note: In cases where an applicant is already in employment and also in receipt of a Social Welfare Payment e.g. One Parent Family Payment, Illness Benefit (exemption), an increase of at least one hour per week must be established before commencing Back to Work Allowance. This does not affect the normal condition of a minimum of twenty hours per week before participation of the scheme can be approved.
Confirmation of this increase in hours must be received in writing from the Employer and accompanied by at least two wage slips.
3.4 Requests for Review of Entitlement:
As this is a non-statutory scheme there is no appeal to an Appeals Officer appointed under the Social Welfare Acts.
Form SWAO1 should NOT be used for this purpose.
On receipt of new or additional information, an Officer of the Department may make a revised decision.
Where a person is not satisfied with the decision s/he may request a
REVIEW OF ENTITLEMENT. The result will be determined an officer of a higher grade.
People participating on the scheme are paid via weekly
Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT).
The rate in payment is adjusted annually from 75% > 50% > 25%.
Claimants are entitled to the appropriate Budget Increases.
Adjustments can be made, when appropriate, in respect of Increases / Decreases for a Qualified Adult and additional Child Dependants (
except in the case of claims based on a previous entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment or Carers Allowance. In these cases a Qualified Adult Dependant increase is not payable since it would not have been payable on the previous and underlying entitlement).
Once entitlement to
BTWA is established, a qualified adult is free to take up employment without affecting the
However, a qualified adult claiming Social Welfare in his/her own right or taking up (
FÁS) Community Employment will result in the
BTWA payment being reduced accordingly.
Where a spouse claims
SW in their own right, no MAX. PAY shall apply and both claimants should receive their full personal entitlements (subject to a person claiming
JA satisfying the Means conditions).
If the employment ceases,
BTWA claimants are free to re-apply for their previous Social Welfare payment at any time. Those who have been in insurable employment may qualify for Unemployment Benefit.
BTWA recipient claims any other Social Welfare payment the
BTWA claim should be closed immediately. However, if the Survivor's Contributory Pension is awarded, Back to Work will continue at the single rate. No qualified child can be included.
3.7 Continuing Payment after a Death in the Family
If a person dies while receiving Back To Work Allowance the payment can continue to be paid to the qualified adult for 6 weeks. Payment may also continue for 6 weeks after the death of a qualified adult or qualified child.
Since the person is in regular employment during the period on Back to Work Allowance,
PRSI is payable at the appropriate rate and credits are not awarded.
3.9 National Minimum Wage:
Under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, every experienced adult worker over 18 years of age is entitled to the National Minimum Wage of €8.65 per hour.
Board, lodgings or board & lodgings can be taken into account when calculating the hourly rate, as follows:
€54.13 for board and lodgings per week, or €7.73 per day
€32.14 for board only per week, or €4.60 per day
€21.85 for lodgings only per week, or €3.14 per day
Appendix 2 for exceptions to the National Minimum Wage.
3.10 Health & Safety Benefit :
BTWA can be paid for the first 21 days of the Health & Safety Leave (i.e. for the period that the employer is obliged to pay the employee). After that the employee will be paid H&S Benefit and
BTWA should be suspended until the employee resumes full-time employment.
Budget changes since 1997
1997, a 1,000 places were provided on the scheme for people with disabilities. (Disability Allowance and Blind Persons Pension).
1999, the Scheme was extended to those in receipt of Carers Allowance.
2000, the Scheme was extended to those in receipt of Invalidity Pension and Incapacity Supplement and Pre-Retirement Allowance.
Provision was also made in
2000 (see separate
VLTU guidelines) for those in receipt of a qualifying payment for 5+ years to receive an additional six-week training allowance and two €253.95 bonuses - the first on recruitment, the second after six months employment.
From 1 July
2001 the scheme was extended on a pilot basis (200 places) to those in receipt of Disability Benefit for 5 years. The qualifying period was further reduced to 3 years in April 2002.
2002 the scheme was extended to persons in receipt of Widows/Widowers Non Contributory, Pension Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, and Prisoners Wife's Allowance.
Provision was also made in
2001 to introduce a pilot scheme in 2 - 3 Health Board areas to enable Long Term Unemployed return to work under the "Special Housing Scheme for the Elderly" and also retain their Jobseeker's @100% for two years. On completion the participant would have the option to avail of the Back to Work Allowance Scheme.
From 1 October
2001 participants of FIT (Fastrack to IT) are eligible for Back to Work Allowance on commencement of internship (subject to normal qualifying criteria).
2003 the qualifying period for Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance recipients was increased from 15 months to 5 years. This also applies to persons over 50 years of age in receipt of Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance. Other qualifying payments are not affected.
From 1 March
2006 the qualifying period for Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance recipients was reduced from 5 years to 2 years. This also applies to persons over 50 years of age in receipt of Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance. Other qualifying payments are not affected.
Periods spent in receipt of Supplementary Welfare Allowance and Direct Provision will count towards the qualifying period for Back to Work Allowance/Back to Work Enterprise Allowance provided the applicant establishes an entitlement to a relevant
SW payment prior to commencing on the scheme.
From 1 March
2007, entitlement extended to those who are in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance for 2 years or more at a weekly rate of less than €50.79 (single) or €78.72 (couple).
National Minimum Wage Act, 2000
What are the circumstances allowed to an employer to pay less than the Minimum Wage?
The tables illustrates the circumstances where a lower rate than the minimum wage may be paid by an employer.
The minimum hourly rates of pay are gross amounts i.e. before tax/
PRSI is deducted. The following tables shows rates of payment applicable from 1 January 2007.
Rates of payment applicable from 1 January 2007
||Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay
|Experienced Adult Worker
||€8.65 per working hour
|Under age 18 years
||€6.06 per working hour
|First year from date of first employment - over age 18 years
||€6.92 per working hour
|Second year from date of first employment - over age 18 years
|| €7.79 per working hour
In structured training or study over age 18 years, undertaken in normal working hours
1st. one third period
€6.49 per working hour
2nd. one third period
€6.92 per working hour
3rd. one third period
€7.79 per working hour
Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment
Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Tel. (01) 631 3131