Jobless workers in Republic to sign on by mobile phone

woman on mobile phone
Image caption Dole claimants will be able to sign on using their mobile phone.

Dole claimants in the Republic of Ireland will be allowed to sign on using their mobile phones from early next year.

The plans are part of a shake-up of the current welfare system in Ireland.

Currently, anyone in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit must sign on in person at their local welfare office once a month.

The new system will replace the face-to-face meetings with monthly phone calls from officials.

The proposed changes are part of a new social welfare bill due to be debated in the Irish parliament and passed into law before Christmas.

Following a dramatic doubling in unemployment figures, the Irish government hopes the scheme will cut down on state officials' workload and lead to savings for the public sector.

It is also hoped the new technology will help tackle fraudsters, according to the Irish Independent.

Irish Social Protection Minister Eamon O'Cuiv said a pilot scheme will be launched in January. If successful it will be rolled out on a national basis.

Currently, dole recipients must call in to their local social welfare office every month to sign on.

Under the new scheme applicants will be required to attend a once off interview. The monthly signing on system will then be conducted over the phone.

It will use voice recognition technology to identify the recipient and they could receive calls at anytime to check if they are available for work.

If they failed to answer the phone on more than three occasions or raised suspicion that they were speaking from a work environment an investigation would be launched.

In addition phones can be tracked to make sure the claimants are in the right jurisdiction when due to sign on.

Although claimants will be signing on by phone they will still be expected to pick up their weekly payments in person.