Factsheet for case IE-2020-13/777 – Updated – measures in Ireland
|Country||Ireland , applies nationwide|
|Time period||Temporary, 26 March 2020 – 31 August 2020|
|Type||Legislations or other statutory regulations|
Employment protection and retention
– Income support for people in employment (e.g. short-time work)
|Author||Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound|
|Case created||23 April 2020 (updated 02 February 2021)|
On 24 March 2020 the Irish Government announced new measures to provide financial support to workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. As part of these measures, the Revenue service operates a Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. The scheme enables employees whose employers are affected by the pandemic to receive significant supports directly from their employer through the payroll system. The scheme is expected to last 12 weeks from 26 March 2020.
The scheme was introduced as part of the terms of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020.
On Wednesday 15 April, the Minister for Finance announced further updates to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.
The scheme was closed on the 31 of August and replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) read more on the COVID-19 data base website
The Scheme is available to employers from all sectors (excluding the public service and non-commercial semi-state sector) whose business activities are adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is open to employers who retain staff on payroll; some of the staff may be temporarily not working or some may be on reduced hours and/or reduced pay. Provided the employer meets certain conditions and, subject to the levels of pay made to employees, the employer may be eligible for the scheme for some, or all of its employees.
The employer includes the subsidy as part of the employees’ wages in addition to any amount that the employer would otherwise be able to pay. The subsidy element on the employee’s payslip is indicated as a payment described as 'GovCov19 WageSub'.
To qualify for the Scheme, employers must be experiencing significant negative economic disruption due to COVID-19, be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of Revenue, a minimum of a 25% decline in turnover and be unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings fully. They must also retain their employees on the payroll.
The scheme is confined to employees who were on the employer’s payroll as at 29 February 2020, and for whom a payroll submission was made to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020.
47,400 employers are registered with Revenue for the scheme.
According to the minister responsible, on 29 April 2020, 'The cumulative value of payments made to employers under the scheme is €652 million, almost 400,000 employees have now received at least one payment under the scheme'.
According to preliminary statistics from the Irish Revenue, to 21 May:
Up to 5 June 2020, over 58,300 employers had registered for the TWSS and over €1.37 billion had been paid out. The scheme has supported over 514,700 employees who received at least one payment. The cost of the scheme is over €500 million per month according to the Department of Finance.
According to data from the Central Bank: “The TWSS supported a cumulative 663,600 people since its inception accounting for, 28 per cent of employment (in Q1 2020). At its peak (end-April), the TWSS supported 425,000 workers, with approximately 340,000 still in receipt of subsidy payments at the closing of the scheme in September. Seventy per cent of supported workers had been availing of the scheme prior to 1 May. On average 58% of recipients were male, 77% were Irish nationals and 39% were aged under 34 years. “At end-August, three sectors – Accommodation and Food Services (24%), Wholesale and Retail Trade and Repairs (19), and Industry (10) – accounted for more than half of the TWSS recipients (Table 1). Within sectors, Accommodation/Food (54% of workers) and Retail (24) workers are particularly reliant on subsidies.”
According to the Irish Times: The employment wage subsidy scheme paid €1.4 billion to 39,800 employers in respect of 443,100 employees between September 2020 and January 2021.
According to a paper by the Department of Social Protection: “as at April 23rd, males accounted for 61.5 per cent of TWSS employees. The principal age cohorts were those aged between 30-39 years and 40-49 years representing 25.9 and 24.9 per cent of employees, respectively. Across all sectors, 84 per cent of employees are receiving a ‘top up’ from their employer; with the highest proportion of Page 17 employees receiving top ups being seen in the Utilities (93.4 per cent) and Finance and Insurance (93 per cent) sectors.14 Aside from activities of households as employers, the Accommodation and Food services sector sees the largest share of employees without a top up under TWSS, at 30.2 per cent.” “Data from Revenue shows the scheme has predominantly been utilised by smaller firms; 66 per cent of enrolled firms employ fewer than 10 workers, although these firms account for less than 22 per cent of all employees on the scheme… Meanwhile, the share of employers using the scheme is heavily weighted towards smaller firms; with over 80 per cent of employers availing of the TWSS seen in firms with less than 20 workers.”
|Does not apply to workers||Applies to all businesses||Does not apply to citizens|
Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:
|Trade unions||Employers' organisations|
|Form||Direct consultation outside a formal body||Direct consultation outside a formal body|
Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:
Social partners were consulted. They welcomed the scheme and asked that it be extended for the duration of the crisis.
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, welcomed the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: 'The TWSS scheme offers a strong solution for business and workforce continuity. It will continue to play a vital role in enabling the economy to bounce back at the other end of this crisis, helping vulnerable firms to stay afloat and keeping their employees engaged whilst protecting the incomes of individuals.'
Patricia King, General-Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions welcomed the Government’s decision to establish a Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to maintain jobs and support workers’ incomes during this unprecedented crisis, as first called for by ICTU in its letter of 18 March to the Taoiseach when we outlined the urgent need for a 'temporary wage subsidy scheme’ that would help to keep workers in their jobs, protect them from unemployment and loss of income, and to help the economy rapidly recover when the COVID ends. 'These unprecedented times demand unprecedented measures to minimise the impact on workers, their families and the business community' , Patricia King said.
When the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was amended to allow women who were on maternity leave to access the payment, this was welcomed by ICTU. ICTU and the National Women’s Council had campaigned to have the anomaly addressed.
Ibec welcomed the extension of the TWSS to 31 August. Chief Executive Danny McCoy said: 'The extension of the TWSS scheme until August will provide confidence to employers and employees, helping vulnerable firms to stay afloat and keeping their employees engaged whilst protecting the incomes of individuals.'
Eurofound (2020), Temporary COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme, case IE-2020-13/777 (measures in Ireland), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch
Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.