COVID-19 economic recovery plan
The government recently announced a new Economic Recovery Plan (the Plan). The Plan outlines a pathway for the resumption of economic activity and a sustainable jobs-led recovery. It focuses on four key pillars:
- sustainable public finances for a lasting recovery
- supporting a return to work by extending labour market supports and through intense activation and reskilling and upskilling opportunities
- re-building sustainable enterprises through targeted supports and polices
- supporting a balanced and inclusive recovery
As part of the Plan, some significant amendments will be made to the financial supports available to employers and employees.
Pandemic Unemployment Payment
Under the Plan, it is expected that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will be closed to new entrants from 1 July 2021. It is planned that the current rates of the PUP will remain in place until 7 September 2021, after which they will be gradually reduced on a phased basis.
From 14 September 2021, individuals who are currently getting the PUP at a rate of:
- €203 per week will transfer to the standard jobseekers’ terms
- €250 per week will receive a reduced payment of €203 per week
- €300 per week will receive a reduced payment of €250 per week
- €350 per week will receive a reduced payment of €300 per week.
Further reductions in payment rates are expected in November 2021 and February 2022, with more people moving onto standard jobseekers terms.
Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will be extended beyond 30 June 2021 until 31 December 2021. The current payment rates will be maintained for Q3 of 2021 (July, August, September) at current turnover thresholds. However, the time period for assessment will be increased from six to 12 months. The government stated that it is too early to prescribe the precise operational parameters of the EWSS for Q4 of this year.
Enhance Illness Benefit
According to the Plan, the enhanced illness payment, which is available to anyone who (i) has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or (ii) has been medically certified to self-isolate/restrict their movements due to being a probable source of infection of COVID-19, will remain in place.
COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme
The COVID-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) is available to eligible businesses who carry on a business activity that is impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and have been required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises. Businesses re-opening in June and July will receive a double payment for the first three weeks upon reopening up to a maximum of €30,000. This will help companies with cash flow and to restock and re-engage staff.
Business Resumption Support Scheme
The Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS) will be introduced in September 2021 for businesses with significantly reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions. This will be open to business with and without a rateable premises and will be administered by Revenue in a similar way to the CRSS.
Businesses who previously availed of other schemes (such as the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID, the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme and the CRSS), will be eligible to apply for the BRSS provided they meet the qualifying criteria. Details on this scheme will be announced in due course, but it is anticipated that the government will continue to support businesses that are particularly challenged through to the end of the year and beyond if needed.
Suspension of section 12A of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967
The suspension of section 12A of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 will be extended until 30 September 2021. As such, from 1 October 2021, employees who would ordinarily be able to claim redundancy as a result of being placed on lay-off / short-time for a certain period of time, may be able to claim redundancy from their employer.
We understand that companies that are genuinely unable to make redundancy payments will be able to get an interest free loan from the social insurance fund.
For more information on specific supports available to employers and employees, take a look at our income supports table.
For further information in relation to this topic please contact Triona Sugrue, Knowledge Lawyer, Amy Martin, Solicitor or any member of ALG's Employment team.
Date published: 25 June 2021