Thursday, 17 April 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
139. Miss Coughlan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when the working committee set up by his Department to deal with share fishermen will report to him; when he will introduce legislation as promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10246/97]
140. Mr. J. Walsh asked the Minister for Social Welfare the plans, if any, he has to introduce a PRSI system which will entitle crewmen to full social welfare benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10262/97]
A review of the insurability position of share fishermen and women for social insurance was carried out in the Department. Taking account of the working arrangements which apply to this group of workers, and the ruling of the European Court of Justice in the “Agegate” case, the legal advice available to the Department confirms that those persons who are employed under contract of service conditions are insurable at the ordinary Class A rate and are eligible for all benefits.
This situation which applies under the present legislation does not require any amending legislation and was explained to representatives of the fishing industry whom I met on 14 January last. Because of its long and complex history, a number of issues with regard to eligibility were examined by a working group in the Department and an explanatory leaflet has been drawn up in accordance with its recommendations. This explains the terms “contract of service” and “contract for service” and gives guidelines about insurability of employment, registration for payment of PRSI and rights for review of claims to benefit which may have been affected by the change in treatment regarding the rate of PRSI payable. Where PRSI Class S contributions were paid in respect of a person who was working as an employee under a contract of service, the Class S contributions may be amended to Class A contributions and the employer relieved from payment of any arrears of contributions for the employees.
 The new arrangements have been brought into operation. Regarding claims for benefit from share fishermen who are employed under contract of service, they should apply to their local social welfare office if they have a claim for unemployment assistance-unemployment benefit, disability benefit or occupational injuries benefit, and their claims will be processed as quickly as possible.
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