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Employment & Income Supports
The Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection (DEASP), are introducing measures to limit and slow down the spread of COVID-19, to keep the number of affected people to a minimum and to reduce peak pressure on the health service. The main measures being introduced by the Government are as follows:
- Waiver of the current 6 ‘waiting days’ for Illness Benefit in respect of medically certified cases of COVID-19 or medically required self-isolation in accordance with public health guidelines and bringing forward payment of benefits to cover the first week of any absence in respect of medically required cases of self-isolation or medically diagnosed cases of Covid-19,
- Increasing the personal rate of Illness Benefit from €203 per week to €305 per week for a maximum period of 2 weeks of medically certified self-isolation, or for the duration of a person’s medically-certified absence from work due to COVID-19 diagnosis,
- Removing the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance in respect of medically certified cases of self-isolation, and
- Allowing self-employed people to receive either Illness Benefit or non-means tested Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has released a detailed guide for employers and employees and includes information on:
- Who the enhanced arrangements are intended to support
- Workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19
- Workers who are not diagnosed with COVID-19 but are required to self-isolate
- Workers whose employers do not supplement/top-up the state Illness Benefit payment
- Availability of the enhanced payment
- Workers who are requested to stay at home by their employer
- Workers who are laid off temporarily or put on to short time working
- Workers who need to take-time off work to care for a person affected by COVID-19
- People already in receipt of Social Welfare Payments
- How to apply for Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have put an array of measures in place with regard to supports for both employees and employers which can be found here.
Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme
On March 24, the Government announced the introduction of this temporary Scheme to provide financial support to both employees and employers adversely affected by the global pandemic. The Scheme, which is expected to last 12 weeks from 26th March 2020, will enable employees to receive significant supports directly from their employer. The Scheme will replace the previous Employer Covid-19 Refund Scheme announced which focused on assisting employers with employees who were laid off without pay.
This is a welcome announcement as many employers would wish to support their workers in this period of crisis, whether they be laid off or put on reduced working hours as a result of a downturn in business.
The main features of the Scheme:
- Initially, the subsidy scheme will refund employers up to a maximum of €410 p/w per qualifying employee.
- Employers should pay no more than the normal take home pay.
- The subsidy scheme applies to employers who top up employee’s wages along with those who are not in a position to do so.
- Employers make this special support payment to their employees through their normal payroll process which will be notified to Revenue.
- The reimbursement will be made within two working days of the submission.
- From April 2020, the scheme will move to a subsidy payment based on 70% of the weekly average take home pay, up to a maximum of €410 p/w. Revenue will issue further guidance on the calculation in due course.
- Income Tax and USC will not apply to the subsidy payment.
- Employee PRSI will not apply to the subsidy or any top up by the employer.
- Employers PRSI will not apply to the subsidy and will be reduced to 0.5% on the top up payment.
To qualify for the wage subsidy scheme, employers must:
- Retain their employees on the payroll.
- Be unable to pay normal wages and outgoings fully.
- Be able to demonstrate, to Revenue’s satisfaction, a minimum of a 25% decline in turnover.
- Be experiencing significant economic disruption due to Covid-19.
Further Revenue guidance is to be issue shortly which should outline the detailed workings of the scheme.