'Nixers and the black economy ' are among the reasons why a significant number of construction workers remaining on the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP), an industry group says.
Almost 12,000 construction workers are still claiming the PUP, according to the latest CSO figures.
The figure has decreased compared to July, when over 20,000 construction workers remained on the PUP.
Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation, told Newstalk Breakfast says he can't fully explain why the figure remains so high.
He said: "Obviously the numbers are very well down on previous CSO outings, so the industry is hiring and continuing to hire.
“I’m not sure the definition that is used for those 12,000 odd construction workers who are still on the PUP - but sites are hiring, and we need skilled people."
Mr Parlon stressed that the onus is on individuals to sign themselves off the PUP if they're going back to work.
He said: “I suspect - and anecdotally [we've heard] - some of those people are people who worked here from eastern Europe and outside the State, and maybe still claiming their PUP and choosing not to come back here.
"Clearly, there’s an issue with the black economy and doing nixers - there’s a massive demand for that out there.”
Demand for skilled workers
Mr Parlon said there are people out there who “have the skills” to go straight back to work in construction.
He said some builders and technicians are working longer hours and weekends to try to finish projects that have fallen behind.
Meanwhile, Mr Parlon said there's also significant demand for work permits to bring workers in from outside the EU.
He said: “Bringing people in from the likes of Mexico, the Philippines and so on… you do need a work permit.
"Our work permit system that’s being operated here through the Department of Jobs needs to be able to speed up and get through those [applications] quicker.”
Also speaking on the show, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said there is “an element” of nixers and workers claiming the PUP while abroad - but he noted “it might not be the full story” behind the PUP figures.
He stressed the PUP is now being phased out, with the weekly rates decreasing over the coming months to bring them in line with jobseekers payments.