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Ireland: Employment wage subsidy, operational guidance (COVID-19)

Ireland: Employment wage subsidy, operational guidance

Irish Revenue on 14 August 2020 released additional guidance on the operation of the “employment wage subsidy scheme” (EWSS)—a program intended to provide relief for employers (and their employees) in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The introduction of the employment wage subsidy scheme was provided for in the Financial Provisions (COVID-19) (No.2) Act 2020 (Act No. 8 of 2020) which was signed into law on 1 August 2020.

While most of the key points provided for in the operational guidance have already been publicised either in the law or in related commentary, the guidance does provide additional practical insight into the operation of the scheme and more clarity in respect of assessing employer eligibility for the scheme.

To be eligible to participate in the scheme, the employer must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of Irish Revenue that the employer’s business has been significantly disrupted because of COVID-19. Specifically, the employer needs to demonstrate at least a 30% decline (or such other percentage as the Minister for Finance may specify) in either the turnover of the employer’s business or in customer orders received during the period 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020 (compared to the same period in 2019). Revenue’s guidance includes examples of how to assess the decline in customer orders in different sectors in their new guidance. When it is not possible to apply the turnover test or customer order test to the business in question, an alternative reasonable basis may be applied.

An employee in receipt of gross wages of between €151.50 and €1,462 generally will qualify as an eligible employee. Any employee who was considered an eligible employee under the existing “temporary wage subsidy scheme” (TWSS) provisions will also be considered an eligible employee for the EWSS. When TWSS ceases to be claimed for an employee (at the latest, 31 August 2020), an EWSS claim can commence.

The new EWSS extends the definition of eligible employee to include an individual who is on the payroll of the employer at any time in the “qualifying period” (at any time between 1 July 2020 and 31 March 2021). Previously, with a small number of limited exceptions, an employee was only considered eligible for the TWSS when they were included on the employer payroll on 29 February 2020.
 

Read an August 2020 report prepared by the KPMG member firm in Ireland

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