Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

Introduction

Under the July Jobs Stimulus Package the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) from 1 September 2020.

The EWSS will run until 31 March 2021.

Under the EWSS scheme, employers and new firms in sectors impacted by COVID-19 whose turnover has fallen 30% get a flat-rate subsidy per week based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll, including seasonal staff and new employees.

If an employee has more than one job, each employer can make a claim under the EWSS, ignoring any other employments the employee may have.

This page is a summary of the EWSS rules and operation. You can get more detailed guidance on the operation of the scheme from Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines (pdf).

Changes to EWSS

From midnight on Wednesday 21 October, Ireland is on alert level 5 of the Plan for living with COVID-19. As a result, the COVID-19 Pandemic Employment Payment (PUP) has increased. The EWSS is also being amended to align with the changes to PUP. This means that there are now 5 payment bands and associated rates based on the employee’s earnings - see 'Rates' below. These revised rates will be effective from 20 October 2020 to 31 January 2021.

Rules for EWSS

How do I qualify?

To qualify for the scheme you must:

  • Have valid tax clearance
  • Meet the reduction in turnover or customer orders test

Tax clearance

In order to receive the EWSS payments, you must:

  • Have a valid tax clearance certificate
  • Continue to maintain tax clearance for the duration of the scheme

You can check your current tax clearance status online through ROS. More information on tax clearance is available from Revenue.

The July Stimulus Package included measures on ‘warehousing’ or deferral of unpaid VAT and Employers PAYE debt associated with COVID-19. You can get more information on the initiatives covering COVID-19 related tax debts in Revenue’s Information Booklet (pdf).

Reduction in turnover or customer orders test

You must self-declare to Revenue that you have experienced significant negative economic disruption due to COVID-19, with a minimum of 30% decline in turnover or customer orders (between July and December 2020 compared with the same period in 2019). The review of turnover or orders should look at the period as whole, not individual months. For new businesses, this is based on a projected forward test.

If you are a charity that is getting special grant funding under the Government’s Charity Stability Scheme, the funding may be excluded from the definition of turnover in assessing your eligibility for the EWSS. You can contact the Revenue division or branch responsible for your tax affairs for further guidance.

If you are a registered childcare provider, you do not need to meet the 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders test.

If you have a more complex business structure and need help determining your eligibility for the scheme, you can get further guidance in Appendix I of Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines (pdf).

Eligible employees

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

  • Temporarily not working or
  • On reduced hours or reduced pay (or both)

An employee who is receiving a EWSS payment and whose work is reduced to 3 days or less per week, may be entitled to Short Time Work Support which is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit.

An eligible employer must be paying gross wages between €151.50 and €1,462 gross per week to qualify for EWSS (see Rates below).

If you have a new employee (new hire or a seasonal worker), they can start the EWSS from 1 July 2020. You can get more information on how to make applications for new hires and seasonal workers in Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines (pdf).

Certain categories of employees are excluded from the EWSS. These are:

  • Proprietary directors (with certain exceptions – see below)
  • Connected parties who were not on the payroll and paid at any time between July 2019 and June 2020 (Certain exceptions apply). See Revenue’s website for details.

You can claim the subsidy for proprietary directors if:

  • You meet the eligibility criteria for the EWSS
  • The proprietary director is on your payroll
  • You paid wages to the proprietary director which were reported to Revenue on your payroll between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020

Where a person is a proprietary director of 2 or more eligible companies, a claim for the EWSS can only be submitted for a single company.

You can read additional guidance on eligible employees and excluded categories in Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines (pdf).

Proofs required

Applications for EWSS are based on self-assessment principles. This means you will not have to provide proof of eligibility to Revenue at the registration stage. Revenue will review eligibility in the future, based on risk criteria - see ‘Compliance checks’ below.

You should keep proof of your eligibility for the scheme (evidence of reduction in turnover and other evidence). You can read detailed information on the supporting proofs in Appendix I of Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines (pdf).

Eligibility review

On the last day of every month, you must complete a review to make sure you continue to meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria (looking at the period as a whole rather than on a monthly basis). If you no longer qualify, you must:

  • De-register for EWSS through ROS with effect from the 1st day of the next month
  • Stop claiming the subsidy

The requirement to do an eligibility review does not apply for July 2020 and the final month of the scheme.

You can get more information on eligibility reviews in Revenue’s EWSS Guidance (pdf).

Compliance checks

Revenue will be contacting employers in the future to check records relating to the operation of the scheme including:

  • Evidence that you meet the eligibility criteria, specifically the reduction in turnover or customer orders test
  • Details of monthly eligibility reviews

More information on compliance checks will be made available by Revenue.

Anti-abuse measures

Businesses can be penalised or face a possible criminal prosecution for inappropriate accounting practices or for a false representation of the financial situation of their business. The EWSS payment will be stopped and no further claims will be accepted. You can get more information on these anti-abuse measures in Revenue’s EWSS Guidance (pdf).

Rates

The subsidy amount paid to employers will depend on the gross income of each employee.

EWSS will give a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers, based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll.

Subsidy rates from 20 October 2020 to 31 January 2021

The current subsidy rates are:

Gross pay per week Revised subsidy rates
Less than €151.50 No subsidy applies
€151.50 - €202.99 €203
€203 - €299.99 €250
€300 - €399.99 €300
€400 - €1,462 €350
Over €1,462 No subsidy applies

Previous subsidy rates from 1 July 2020 to 19 October 2020

From 1 July 2020, the following subsidy rates applied:

Gross pay per week Revised subsidy rates
Less than €151.50 No subsidy applies
€151.50 - €202.99 €151.50
€203 - €1,462 €203
Over €1,462 No subsidy applies

Income tax and PRSI deductions

Under the EWSS employers must operate PAYE on all payments. This means you should resume the regular deduction of income tax, USC and employee PRSI from your employees’ pay.

If an employment is eligible for the subsidy, a 0.5% rate of employer’s PRSI applies.

How to apply

Since 18 August, you, your agent or payroll provider will be able to register for the EWSS through Revenue’s Online Service (ROS).

Applications can only be processed if you:

  • Are registered for Employer’s PAYE/PRSI (PREM)
  • Have a bank account linked to the PREM registration
  • Have tax clearance

Registration will be through the eRegistration system. You will have to make a self-declaration as part of this process.

You can get detailed instructions on the process you should follow to operate Revenue’s EWSS on your payroll in Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines (pdf).

Further information

You can get more help from Revenue’s National Employer Helpdesk through the myEnquiries system or by calling the National Employer helpline Tel: 01 738 3638 (Monday to Friday, from 9.00am to 5.00pm).

If you have a question about your situation during the COVID-19 emergency period, you can request a call back from the Citizens Information Service.

Page edited: 22 October 2020