COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme

Introduction

The new COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme was announced on 24 March 2020.

It will allow employers to continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. It aims to keep employees registered with their employers, so that they will be able to get back to work quickly after the pandemic.

The scheme will run for 12 weeks from 26 March 2020.

If your employer implements the scheme, you will not need to apply for a social welfare payment. If you are an employee and you had already applied for the COVID-19 Pandemic Payment but your employer can now take you back onto the payroll (using the Wage Subsidy Scheme), you should close your application at MyWelfare.ie.

People aged over 66 getting a State pension are eligible for the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme and can keep their pension payment.

The scheme will refund employers up to a maximum of €410 for each qualifying employee. The Government is encouraging employers to top-up their employees' wages to maintain them at their current level of earnings. See ‘Rates’ below.

If you are self-employed and have lost all your employment, you should apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 a week.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme replaces the Revenue Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme.

Who can apply for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme?

The Scheme is available to employers from all sectors (except for the public service and non-commercial semi-state sector) who have lost a minimum of 25% of turnover because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers will have to make a declaration to Revenue confirming this.

The scheme is available for employers who keep staff on their payroll during the pandemic. Employees can be:

  • Temporarily not working (laid off) or
  • On reduced hours and/or reduced pay

How do I qualify?

As long as you meet the qualifying conditions, see ‘Rates’ below, you may be eligible for the scheme for some or all of your employees.

To qualify for the scheme, you must:

  • Self-declare to Revenue that you have experienced significant negative economic disruption due to COVID-19, with a minimum of 25% decline in turnover (between 14 March 2020 and 30 June 2020)
  • Be unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings fully
  • Keep your employees on your payroll

Employees must have been on your payroll on 29 February 2020, and you must have made payroll submission on their behalf to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020.

Your declaration is not a declaration of insolvency. It is simply a declaration that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to your business.

Employers must not operate this scheme for employees who are making a claim for duplicate support from the DEASP (such as the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment). However if your employee is already getting a payment from the DEASP such as a carers or disability payment, you can operate the scheme on their behalf.

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme applies both to employers that top up employees’ wages and those that are not in a position to do so.

Proofs required

Applications are based on self-assessment principles. You can read detailed information on the key indicators and supporting proofs from Revenue (pdf). Employers should keep proof of their eligibility for the scheme (evidence of reduction in turnover and other evidence). However, you shouldn’t need professional advice or assistance when applying for the scheme.

Penalties will apply to self-declaring incorrectly, not providing funds to employees or not following Revenue (or other) guidelines.

Rates

From 26 March 2020 the subsidy scheme will refund employers up to a maximum of €410 for each qualifying employee.

If an employee has multiple employments, each employer can operate the scheme based on 70% of employee’s net earnings.

From April, and no later than Monday 20 April 2020, the scheme will move to a subsidy payment based on 70% of the weekly average take home pay for each employee up to a maximum of €410. (Revenue will provide details of this soon).

The subsidy is based on an employee's pay after tax, USC and PRSI, not their gross pay.

This payment will be limited depending on the employee's average take home pay:

  • Average pay from €0 to €586 limits it to €410
  • Average pay from €586 to €960 limits it to €350
  • Average pay above €960 is not entitled to the subsidy

Please note also the following:

  • Income tax and USC will not be applied to the subsidy through the payroll (any tax liability that may arise will be reviewed at the end of the year)
  • Employee PRSI does not apply to the subsidy or any top-up payment by the employer.
  • Employers PRSI does not apply to the subsidy and will be reduced from 10.5% to 0.5% on the top-up payment.

How to apply

You do not need to re-apply if you have already applied for the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme.

You can make payroll submissions from 26 March 2020 under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme arrangements on the same basis as for the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme, and €410 will be refunded for each eligible employee per week.

You will then be reimbursed for amounts paid to employees and notified to Revenue through the payroll process. In general, this will be made within 2 working days after receipt of the payroll submission. Note that to receive payments under the Wage Subsidy Scheme, you must set up a nominated refund bank account. This is the case even if you have an existing payment bank account set up under ROS.

If you need to register for the scheme, you can apply to Revenue by following these steps:

  1. Log on to ROS myEnquiries and select the category ‘Covid-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy’.
  2. Read the “Covid-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy Self-Declaration” and press the ‘Submit’ button.
  3. Ensure bank account details on Revenue record are correctfor your nominated refund bank account. These can be checked in ROS and in ‘Manage bank accounts’, ‘Manage EFT’, enter the refund bank account that the refund is to be made to.

How quickly will the refund be paid?

Revenue will transfer the amounts paid to employees and notified to Revenue into your nominated refund bank account. In general, the refund will be made within 2 working days after receipt of the payroll submission.

You can read detailed guidelines on the operation of the scheme (pdf).

What details should I enter in my payroll?

You should run the payroll as normal, entering the following details for each relevant employee under the Scheme:

  • PRSI Class set to J9.
  • Enter a non-taxable amount up to 70% of the employee’s average net weekly pay to:
    • a maximum of €410 per week where the average net weekly pay is less than or equal to €585, or
    • a maximum of €350 per week where the average net weekly pay is greater than €586 and less than or equal to €960.
  • If an employer is not making any payment to the employee, they should include a pay amount of €0.01 in Gross Pay.
  • If an employer is making additional wage payments to employees, they should include this amount in the Gross Pay.
  • It is important that employers do not include the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy payment in Gross Pay.
  • The wage subsidy plus any additional pay must not be more than the average net weekly pay.
  • It is important that employers do not include the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy payment in Gross Pay.
  • The payroll submission must include pay frequency and period number.

Income tax, USC, LPT, if applicable, and PRSI are not deducted from the Temporary Wage Subsidy.

In many cases, the payment of the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy and any additional income paid by the employer will result in the refund of income tax or USC already paid by the employee. Any income tax and USC refunds that arise as a result of the application of tax credits and rate bands can be repaid by the employer and Revenue will also refund this amount to the employer.

Based on the information provided in payroll submissions and the maximum limits, described above, Revenue will credit employers with the temporary wage subsidy paid to each employee.

The names of all employers operating this scheme will be published on Revenue’s website after the scheme has expired.

Further information

Employers should contact Revenue’s National Employer Helpdesk through the myEnquiries system, providing details of the query and a direct telephone number.

Employers should make sure to select ‘Employer’s PAYE’ and then ‘Employer’s PAYE General Enquiry’ when submitting the query through myEnquiries.

You can read more about COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy and a list of frequently asked questions on the Revenue website.

You can read more in our documents:

Page edited: 7 April 2020