The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) on 1 September 2020.
Revenue has issued guidelines on the operation of the EWSS.
The new EWSS:
Provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of paid and eligible employees on the employer’s payroll, and
Charges a reduced rate of employer PRSI of 0.5% on wages paid which are eligible for the subsidy payment
Employers who are currently claiming TWSS must complete a new registration for the EWSS as different eligibility conditions apply to both schemes. Registration for the EWSS is open now through Revenue’s Online Service.
Qualifying Criteria for Employers
To qualify for the EWSS, employers must be able to demonstrate that:
They have tax clearance from Revenue, and
Their business will experience a 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders between 1 July and 31 December 2020, and
This disruption is caused by COVID-19
The comparison to prove the reduction in turnover or customer orders should be made against:
The same period in 2019 where the business was in existence prior to 1 July 2019, or
Where the business commenced trading between 1 July and 1 November 2019, the date of commencement to 31 December 2019, or
Where a business commenced after 1 November 2019, the projected turnover or customer orders
Revenue have confirmed that the 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders may be applied to (a) the entity as a whole or (b) if an entity is formally structured (and has been since before the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in March 2020) into individual “business divisions”, at the level of the individual “business division”, subject to certain conditions.
Where neither the “turnover test” nor the reduction in “customer orders test” is capable of being applied to the business in question then, Revenue have confirmed, it may be possible to apply a different “reasonable basis” test to the business. In such cases, guidance from Revenue should be sought through the relevant Revenue Division/Branch responsible for the tax affairs of the employer concerned.
Employers are required to undertake a review on the last day of every month to ensure they continue to meet the eligibility criteria. If they no longer qualify, they must de-register for the EWSS with effect from the following day (ie the first day of the following month).
If circumstances change in a later month and the employer is eligible again, they can re-register and claim from the date of re-registration. It is not possible to backdate the claim to include the period where the employer was not registered.
Employees are eligible if they are in receipt of weekly gross wages of between €151.50 and €1,462 (subject to certain exceptions).
The subsidy amount paid to employers will depend on the gross income of each employee, as follows:
As part of the registration, process employers must make a self-declaration to Revenue confirming eligibility for the scheme, undertake to adhere to the required terms and conditions and retain all relevant records relating to the scheme.
Revenue has confirmed that it will be carrying out an “assurance check programme” at a later stage to ensure that the scheme is being operated as intended by employers.
Employers who are availaing of the EWSS should, therefore, ensure they keep evidence of their eligibility for the scheme as well as details of the monthly eligibility reviews.
Failure by an employer to adhere to the terms of the scheme could result in Revenue recouping the subsidy paid (together with interest and penalties) and prosecution.
As with the TWSS, the Revenue Commission has confirmed that it will be publishing a list of employers availing of the EWSS. This list will be published in January 2021 and April 2021.
The Minister for Finance will continue to monitor the economy and may amend the terms of the scheme, specifically the end date; the rate of subsidy payable; and the turnover test to determine employer eligibility. Employers availing of the EWSS should therefore keep up to date with the most recent Revenue and Government guidelines.
This overview is not intended as legal advice. Before availing of the EWSS, employers should consult the most recent Revenue Guidelines and their tax and financial advisors.