Anyone in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment must be "genuinely seeking" employment under legislation passed by the Dáil tonight.

The Social Welfare (Covid-19) Amendment Bill, which aims to put the €350 a week emergency payment on a statutory footing, will now be sent to the Seanad for consideration.

The bill states a person is entitled to the payment on any week where "he or she is genuinely seeking but unable to obtain employment suitable for him or her".

Speaking during the debate, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said her department will show understanding to people who are claiming the PUP and waiting to return to work.

She said: "I know there are some sectors which haven't opened up yet, the remainder of those will be allowed open up on August 10th. If you are in a sector that is waiting to reopen soon that is fully understandable."

However, she added: "Unfortunately a lot of people won't be returning to their jobs. And that is why we want help them get into new jobs."

She added her department had provided funding to help people find new employment.

The requirement came as a surprise to most of the Opposition when it was posted on the Government website over the weekend, and confirmed yesterday by Ms Humphreys.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said he and other members of the Opposition were looking to have that section of the legislation removed "because that is the criteria by which people are being chased around the airport".

He said he pushed for a vote on the issue in the Dáil tonight so that Government TDs who have publicly raised concerns about airport checks on people in receipt of the payment can "put their money where their mouth is".

Deputy Gannon said the airport checks were "wrong and unjust" and treating welfare recipients differently is a line that should not be crossed.

The legal rights organisation, FLAC has said the rules on PUP claimants and travelling abroad are not legal.

Chief Executive Eilis Barry said she has written to Minister Humphreys to outline that there is no clear legal basis to sanction those claiming the payment, for holidaying abroad.

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Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told the Dáil that he would like a review of any cases of individuals who may have been unfairly taken off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

He said the Government was not out to undermine people or take their entitlements from them.

However, he said the Department of Social Protection had to ensure proper compliance for people leaving the country for good and still claiming the payment.

Mr Martin said that more than 2,000 people in receipt of the payment have had their cases closed as a result of checks carried out at Dublin Airport.

But he said the vast majority of these claims relate to people who have been leaving the country on a permanent basis.

The Taoiseach said a "handful of cases" were those of claimants who have had their payments suspended.

He said the department was anxious that the holiday arrangements for people in receipt of these social welfare payments would be in line with the Government's travel advice.

He was responding to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who criticised the Government's decision to stop PUP for those who have travelled abroad for non-essential purposes.

She said the Government was singling out one section of the population without notice or warning.

Ms McDonald said many of these were the same people who were excluded from the stay and spend innovative, so were not being helped to holiday at home.

She said the Government had chosen to punish people who had lost their jobs who had chosen to travel abroad and she called for a reversal of the decision.

Ms McDonald said it is "blatant discrimination" to penalise people for travelling overseas. She said the statutory instrument should be rescinded as it was the Government that shut the country down.

The Taoiseach said everyone in the Dáil agreed there had to be a lockdown and, he said, there is now "shallow propaganda" coming from the other side of the house.

He said there are a very small number of cases being highlighted and he had no issue with those cases being reviewed and fairness being applied to everybody.

A Dáil vote which sought to lift a travel ban for those in receipt of the PUP was defeated.

RISE TD Paul Murphy sought to change the day's schedule to allow time to debate a motion that would annul an order signed into effect by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys on 10 July, which he said was "blatantly discriminatory".

But the Government opposed the holding of such a motion at all, and won its vote to keep the schedule as it was, by 76 to 54.