Apr 2020


Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme - What you need to know

The Government has announced measures to provide financial support to employers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. As part of these measures, Revenue is operating a Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme from 26th March 2020 and it is expected to last for 12 weeks.

The scheme applies to employers who may wish to top up employee payments and for those who are not in a position to do so. To qualify, employers:

  • must be experiencing significant negative economic disruption due to COVID-19,
  • must be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of Revenue, a minimum of a 25% decline in turnover
  • must be unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings fully, and
  • retain their employees on the payroll

The scheme replaces the previous Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme and if you have already registered for the COVID-19 Refund Scheme, you do not need to re-register for the new scheme. Employers that are not registered but wish to register for this scheme can do so through myEnquiries.

The Scheme is restricted to employees who were on the employer’s payroll as at 29 February 2020, and for whom a payroll submission has already been made to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 and 15 March 2020. Where employers didn't fulfil their PAYE reporting obligations for February 2020 by 15 March 2020, please click here for further information.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has been divided into two different phases, the first phase is the transitional phase which will run from 26th March to 3rd May, and the operational phase will be in place from 4th May.

Employee Payments

During the transitional phase, employers can pay 70% of the employee’s average weekly net pay as a non-taxable payment, and in turn receive a refund from Revenue for this (Net pay = Gross less Income Tax, USC & Employee PRSI). The period for calculating an employee's average weekly pay is January & February 2020, but if you are a BrightPay customer, this calculation is automated in BrightPay.

This payment is capped at:

  • €410 per week where the average net weekly pay is less than or equal to €586, or
  • €350 where the average net weekly pay is greater than €586 and less than or equal to €960

Employees with an average net weekly pay greater than €960 will be excluded from the subsidy scheme. From 16 April 2020, the wage subsidy is available to support employees where their pre-COVID salary was greater than €960 per week, and their salary has now fallen below €960, and this is subject to the tiered arrangements and tapering to ensure that the net pay does not exceed €960 per week.

Where the current gross pay, as reported in the payroll submission, represents a reduction from the average net weekly pay by:

  • less than 20%, no subsidy is payable
  • between 20% and 39%, a subsidy of up to €205 is payable
  • 40% or more, a subsidy of up to €350 is payable

These payments are liable to income tax; however, the subsidy is not taxable in real-time through the PAYE system during the period of the Subsidy scheme. Instead the employee will be liable for tax on the subsidy amount paid to them by their employer by way of review at the end of the year by Revenue.

Employers may top up this payment if they are in a position to do so. This top up amount, when added to the employee’s subsidy payment, cannot be greater than the employee's average net weekly pay. Any top-up payment made is taxable and USC-able, and the combined payment is to be processed under PRSI Class J9. If an employer tops up payments by more than the permitted amount, their subsidy will be tapered, so for every €1 extra paid to an employee, they will lose €1 on the subsidy.

During the transitional phase, employers must work out the payment that can be made to their employees i.e. the 70% tax free payment and the maximum top-up allowed. Revenue will automatically refund €410 per week per employee on the scheme as they won’t know what employees are entitled to. The refund from Revenue will, in general, be made to the employer within 2 working days after receipt of the payroll submission (PSR). At a later date, Revenue will perform a reconciliation and will look for repayment of any overpayments.

During the operational phase, from 4 May 2020, Revenue will inform employers how much they can pay tax free and the maximum top-up allowed. During this time, Revenue will refund the exact amount due as they will have instructed the employer how much can be paid. Click here to find out more about the operational phase.

Join us for a free COVID-19 webinar where we discuss what you need to know about remote working, putting staff on payoff, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Places are limited - Book your place now.

Thesaurus Payroll Manager | BrightPay Payroll Software

Posted byRachel HynesinCoronavirus