The Department of Social Protection was asked to conduct site visits of hospitality businesses on Christmas week to ensure staff had signed off the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP).
An internal email, seen by The Irish Examiner and dated December 16th, details that the principal officer in the department's special investigation unit had been asked to “conduct a small number of inspections on open pubs, cafes and restaurants in the coming days to ensure that employees have signed off any SW payment – including PUP”.
“There is particular concern that not all PUP recipients are closing their claims on return to work,” the email states.
“Obviously these inspections should be conducted in compliance with Covid-19 requirements and consideration should be given to the times of day they are done.”
The Department of Social Protection said it did not comment on particular inspections.
A spokesperson told The Irish Examiner: “Employment site inspections are a normal part of control activity both to identify any cases where a person may be working while simultaneously claiming a social welfare payment incorrectly and, importantly, to ensure that employers classify workers correctly under the social insurance system and remit their social insurance contributions.”
Total weekly payments of the PUP are valued at about €90 million.
The accommodation and food service activities sector accounts for the highest number of people in receipt of the payment (almost 90,000), just under one-third of all PUP recipients.
Gastropubs and restaurants have been ordered by the Government to close at 3pm on Christmas Eve.