The Government recently announced the following changes to employment income supports, which were introduced to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extension of Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) commenced on 26 March 2020 and was originally expected to run for a period of 12 weeks. However, the Minister for Finance has announced that the TWSS will remain in place until the end of August 2020. He noted that the Government would continue to monitor the economic recovery as restrictions are gradually lifted and this will inform a decision later in the summer on the need for further extension or tapering beyond August.
Inclusion of those who were on protected leave in the TWSS
Employees who were on protected leave, such as maternity/adoptive leave in January or February 2020 were potentially outside the eligibility threshold to avail of the TWSS. The TWSS has now been amended to include such employees. Payment will be backdated to 26 March 2020 or to the date the employee recommenced employment, whichever is the latest. Further details on how an employer can avail of the Scheme for such employees can be found at paragraph 3.15 of the Revenue guidance.
Changes to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment
The availability of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has been extended to 10 August 2020. From Phase 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (29 June 2020), there will be a two level payment structure to link the PUP level to prior earnings. One of the issues identified with the PUP is that some recipients who previously only worked a small number of hours received significantly more in the PUP than while in employment.
In order to address this issue the PUP will be paid at two levels:
For those whose prior employment earnings were €200 per week or higher, the PUP rate will remain at €350 per week
For those whose prior employment earnings were up to €199.99 per week, the PUP rate will be €203 per week - the primary rate of payment of the Jobseeker’s Benefit scheme
Extension of COVID-19 Illness Benefit
The current arrangements with respect to the waiver of waiting days and the payment of an enhanced rate of Illness Benefit to people affected by COVID-19 are extended to 10 August 2020.