COVID-19 Business Supports Hub

Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme

We have collated our top tips for claiming the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy - please see here.


Overview:

  • Allows employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic.

Update 2 May:

  • The scheme will enter the operational phase from 4 May; the following is an overview of the changes:
    • Revenue has calculated each employee’s weekly subsidy amount for all employers operating the TWSS, available for download from ROS (see 'Apply' below).

    • Revenue will refund the employer the subsidy amount that the employee is eligible to receive after any tapering required has been applied.

    • Revenue will begin to review employer refunds made from 26 March up to 4 May. Where necessary Revenue will adjust the amount of future refunds to account for differences between the subsidy the employee was eligible for and the €410 flat rate subsidy paid by Revenue. 

Update 24 April:

  • Revenue will allow access to the wage subsidy scheme for certain employers who were excluded due to late filing of February payroll returns. Details of updated employer eligibility can be found on Revenue's website

Guidance applicable from 4 May

  • The changes come into effect for payroll with a pay date on or after 4 May. April pay periods are not affected.
  • For employees with average net pay up to €412 per week (equivalent to c. €24k annual gross) the subsidy will be increased from 70% to 85%.
  • Where an employer wishes to pay of top-up of more than 15% in order to bring the employee’s pay to €350 per week, then tapering would not be applied to the subsidy.
  • For employees with average net pay between €412 and €500 per week (equivalent to c. €24k - €31k annual gross), the subsidy will be up to €350 per week.
  • There are no changes in respect of those whose previous average net pay was between €500 and €586 per week (equivalent to €31k-€38k annual gross); they will continue to receive a subsidy of up to 70% of previous net income, up to a maximum of €410 per week.
  • For employees with average net pay in excess of €586 per week (c. €38k annual gross), a tiered approach will apply. The maximum subsidy payable for these employees remains €350 per week. The tiered approach takes into account both the amount paid by the employer and the level of reduction in pay borne by that employee.

It is also worth noting that there is no change to the qualification criteria for employers.

See the Department of Finance's press release for more information.


Guidance applicable up to 4 May

The following is an overview of the scheme applicable up to 4 May, and some of the difficulties we have experienced with the scheme in practice.

  1. With effect from 16 April the subsidy will be available for employees previously excluded as their salary exceeded €76k. Where their gross post-COVID-19 salary has fallen below €76k as a result of a salary reduction of more than 20%, the tiered arrangement applicable to gross incomes in excess of €38k will apply.
    • Where the employee’s earnings have now been reduced by more than 20%, a subsidy of up to €205 would be payable.
    • Where the employee’s earnings have now been reduced by more than 40% (this percentage is subject to confirmation - please keep an eye on our website for updates), a subsidy of up to €350 would be payable.
    • The maximum subsidy payable is calculated by reference to the employee’s previous net weekly pay for January and February 2020 and the gross pay being made by the employer. The subsidy is tapered to ensure that the net weekly pay (employer’s contribution and wage subsidy) of the employee does not exceed €960 net per week.
  2. To avail of the scheme, the wage subsidy plus any additional pay must not exceed the average net weekly wage.
    1. The average net weekly wage is calculated based on the employee’s remuneration in January and February divided by the number of insurable weeks.
    2. It is the gross pay as submitted to Revenue less income tax, PRSI and USC deductions.
    3. It is not necessarily the amount paid to the employee, as there may be benefits in kind, pension deductions or other deductions from the net pay.
  3. An employee’s net pay may be down even where the employer tops up by the maximum, as the top-up payment is taxable and cannot be re-grossed upwards. Any top-up above the amount allowed will reduce the subsidy amount euro for euro. Revenue has given worked examples in section 4.4. of their guidance.
  4. The employee’s net pay may be higher due to tax and USC refunds. These tax and USC refunds should be paid to the employee and the employee advised to set them aside to cover the possible taxation bill on the wage subsidy.
  5. The employer should not put employees on a week 1 basis in an attempt to prevent refunds issuing; only the employee can change their Revenue payroll notification (RPN) with Revenue. 
  6. Revenue has stated that the publication of the names of employers that apply for the subsidy is a legislative requirement and international practice and a fairly standard approach for grant processes.
  7. Employees cannot be transferred between payrolls (where the employer has more than one) and still qualify for the subsidy.
  8. Employees will be given a PRSI credit for the weeks of the wage subsidy scheme even though they do not make any PRSI payments.
  9. The wage subsidy is part of an employee’s emoluments for tax purposes but an employer cannot deduct pension payments from the wage subsidy payments. If the employee wants to make pension payments on the wage subsidy they can make a special contribution at a later date.
  10. The scheme applies to employees who reside overseas but are exercising an Irish contract of employment in the state.
  11. Employer’s PRSI on the additional payments made to employees will be at 0.5% instead of the normal rate of 11.05%.
  12. Revenue has given details of how to refund any overpaid wage subsidy in section 6 of their guidance

Scheme overview

Qualifying criteria:

  • Employers must self-declare to Revenue that they have experienced significant negative economic disruption due to COVID-19.
  • There must be a minimum of 25% decline in turnover and an inability to pay normal wages and other outgoings, in accordance with Revenue guidance.
  • Employers must retain their employees on payroll.
  • The scheme applies both to employers who top-up employees’ wages and to those who are not in a position to do so.
  • The scheme applies only to employees on payroll from 29 February 2020, and for whom a payroll submission has already been made to Revenue in the period 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020.

Apply:

  • Employers can apply on the Revenue website.
  • Revenue has calculated each employee’s weekly subsidy amount for all employers operating the TWSS; this information is now available for download from ROS in a format called a CSV file. The file contains information similar to the RPN. Employers must import this information into their payroll software in order to calculate the wage subsidy for each eligible employee.
  • See our top tips for advice on claiming the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy. 

Useful links:

 


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