Income supports for Irish workers and businesses
The COVID-19 Income Support Scheme provides financial support to Irish workers and businesses affected by the crisis. In this blog, we outline the four major income supports available and detail what they are, who is eligible to apply, how to apply, and information on important dates related to the support.
1. Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) was announced by the Irish government on 23rd July 2020 as part of the July stimulus package. The EWSS will replace the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) on 1st September 2020 and is expected to operate until 31st March 2021.
The scheme provides a flat-rate subsidy and a reduced rate of Employer's PRSI to eligible employers to assist in paying their employees wages. Employers can opt-in & opt-out of the scheme as needs dictate and the subsidy is expected to be paid monthly in arrears i.e. the September payroll subsidy will be paid around mid-October.
EWSS employer eligibility
To participate in the EWSS, the employer must meet the following two eligibility requirements. The first is that the employer must have a valid tax clearance certificate. Secondly, the employer must be able to demonstrate that their business has been significantly disrupted due to COVID-19. To meet this requirement, the employer's turnover or customer orders received must have declined by at least 30% during the period 1st July 2020 to 31st December 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019.
Employers are required to reassess their turnover or customer orders position every month and withdraw from the EWSS if it is clear that a reduction of least 30% in turnover or customer orders between July to December 2020 will not be met. Withdrawal is done by notifying Revenue using Revenue’s Online System (ROS).
Where the employer is a registered childcare provider, the EWSS is available without the requirement to meet the 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders.
In the case where the business was not operating for the period 1st July to 31st December 2019, employer eligibility requirements can be found here.
EWSS employee eligibility
Any individual on the employer's payroll between 1st July 2020 and 31st March 2021 is eligible. The only exclusions are (i) companies with a proprietary director who have no other employees and (ii) companies who have employed any 'connected parties' e.g. relations, who were not on the payroll between July 2019 and June 2020.
Employers currently in receipt of a subsidy for employees under the existing TWSS will continue to receive the TWSS subsidy until the end of August and from 1st September 2020, these employees will be subsidised under the EWSS.
Employers who have hired new employees and did not receive a subsidy under the TWSS can claim backdated payments for these employees from 1st July 2020 to 31st August 2020 under EWSS.
EWSS subsidy rates
Eligible employers will receive a subsidy per employee which is based on the eligible employees' gross pay. Revenue will pay the subsidy to the employer via electronic bank transfer once the payroll return for the relevant period is submitted.
How to apply
A step by step guide to apply for the EWSS can be found here.
2. Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was introduced in March 2020 and is a social welfare payment for employees and self-employed people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
When it was announced, anyone in receipt of the payment received €350 per week. On 29th June, the rate of payment for PUP was changed. Two rates of payment were introduced: (i) €203 if you earned less than €200 pre-COVID or (ii) €350 if you earned €200 or more pre-COVID. From 17th September 2020, the PUP will be closed to new applicants. Also, a new rate of €250 will be introduced for people who previously earned between €200 and €300 per week and the maximum payment of €350 will be reduced to €300 for people who earned over €300 a week pre-COVID. Further changes will be made in February 2021.
Anyone aged between 18 and 66 can apply for the payment and this includes students, non-EEA nationals, and part-time workers.
How to apply
MyWelfare.ie is the quickest and easiest way to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Alternatively, you can complete the application form (Link) and post to PO Box 12896, or drop it into your local Intero centre.
3. Short-Time Work Support
The Short-Time Work Support is a form of Jobseeker's Benefit which provides an income support payment for people who have been temporarily placed on a shorter working week by their employer. This payment is made in respect of the days of work that have been lost. As an example, an employee who has been placed on a 3 day working pattern having previously worked 5 days per week may receive the support payment for the other 2 days.
The Short-Time Work Support is a non-taxable payment.
Short-Time Work Support Eligibility
All full-time employees who have been placed on a reduced weekly work pattern can apply for the support. The employee must work 3 days per week or less and have enough PRSI contributions to qualify. The same PRSI conditions that you would need to qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit apply.
Short-Time Work Support rates
The rates of payment are dependant on the employee’s earnings, personal circumstances, and change in work pattern and the duration of payment will depend on the employee’s social insurance contributions.
How to apply
To application process for the Short-Term Work Support is as follows:
2. Ask your employer to complete the Short-Time Work Support form (UP14).
3. Bring both forms to your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare branch.
4. Enhanced Illness Benefit
The COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit is for workers who have been told by a doctor or the Health Service Executive (HSE) to self-isolate or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The Enhanced Illness Benefit is available to both employees and self-employed people.
If you are ill for another reason or self-isolating because you are medically susceptible, you should apply for standard Illness Benefit.
The Enhanced Illness Benefit is a temporary measure and will be in place until 31st March 2021.
Enhanced Illness Benefit Eligibility
You can apply for Enhanced Illness Benefit if you have been told by a doctor or the HSE to self isolate or are diagnosed with COVID-19.
To qualify and get payment of this support you must have a ‘Certificate of incapacity for work’ from a doctor or have a text or letter notification from the HSE. In addition to this, be employed or self-employed and have worked in the 4 weeks before the date of your medical certification.
Enhanced Illness benefit rates
The personal rate of payment is €350 per week. If a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they will be paid for a maximum of 10 weeks or the duration of their medical certificate.
Where a person is self-isolating, it will be paid for a maximum of 2 weeks. This can be extended for another 2 weeks if told to self-isolate again. However, you will need to complete a separate claim form to apply for this second period of self-isolation and have a valid medical certificate. If you have had 2 successive periods of self-isolation, you must return to work and make a PRSI contribution before you can get Enhanced Illness Benefit again.
How to apply
Your doctor will complete a 'Certificate of Incapacity for Work' on your behalf and send this certificate directly to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). If the doctor does not send it to the DEASP, you should send it along with the completed IB1 form to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Illness Benefit, PO Box 1650, Dublin 1 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have been identified during contact tracing as someone who has been in contact with a person with COVID-19, you will get a text or a letter from the HSE with an instruction to you to self-isolate. You can email an image of this HSE document or text the image along with your name and PPS number to email@example.com.
For more information about any of the income supports discussed consult gov.ie.
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