This is an interim update on developments now that further emergency legislation, Bill to Protect Jobs and Tenants and Support Healthcare Professionals, has now been published. It does not deal with all issues arising but the two principal changes which stand to impact on employers’ responses to the immediate human resources questions thrown up by this crisis.
This replaces the Pandemic refund scheme insofar as employees who remain on an employer’s books are concerned.
The temporary wage subsidy scheme is to be made available where:
- There is an inability on the part of the employer to maintain normal pay;
- It is making best efforts to pay staff as normal (although a top up appears not to be mandatory); and
- There is drop off of orders or of turnover of at least 25% in the period between 14 March and 30 June 2020. In terms of demonstrating that this is the case, Revenue is to publish guidance. This should set out how this will be assessed and it is hoped that it will also set out how “business” is defined and that it will also include guidance on how an employer will be assessed as having an inability to pay wages to staff. However, it is not clear from the draft legislation that all of those questions will be subject to detailed written guidance.
Initially, from 26th March, it appears that the subsidy will be the lesser of €410 and normal pay for the affected staff. From April it will move to the below which equates to a payment of up to €410 per week with other amounts to be determined in due course. The amount of the payment can vary across “classes” of employee and the Bill as currently drafted provides (for relevant employees which in short, subject to caveats, includes those who were on the books in February 2020) that where wages (“that would otherwise have been payable”) are:
- Up to €586 – subsidy is 70%
- Up to €960 – subsidy is to be determined by the Minister
- More than €960 – no subsidy is payable
There are various registration and payroll requirements, laid out in the existing Revenue guidance. Please visit: https://revenue.ie/en/corporate/communications/covid19/temporary-covid-19-wage-subsidy-scheme.aspx
If the Bill is passed in its current form, employees placed on lay off or short time will not be able to make redundancy claims up to 31 May 2020 (or any extended period) regardless of the duration of the period of lay-off or short time owing to COVID-19. This part of the legislation will have to be watched as it will influence employer decisions across all affected sectors.