Wage subsidy scheme welcomed

The Government has introduced new measures financial supports for Irish workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, which is due to take affect from tomorrow (26th March), will help maintain jobs and support workers’ incomes during this unprecedented crisis.

It will do this by ensuring that workers receive enhanced supports directly from their employer – underwritten by the public purse – in organisations that temporarily close or lose business because of the pandemic.

The new arrangement replaces the Employer Refund Scheme, which was originally introduced on 15th March. It will be available to all employers who are adversely affected by the emergency, and who continue to keep staff on the payroll.

Eligible employers will be supported by up to 70% of a worker’s take-home income, up to a maximum weekly tax-free payment of €410.

The scheme, which is due to run for a 12-week-period, will provide subsidies on incomes up to €76,000 and will be capped at net €350 for incomes between €38,000 and €76,000.

The Government has urged employers to operate the scheme and keep staff on their books. It’s also asked them to top-up the payment – to 100% of if possible – to help maintain incomes and economic activity.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) General Secretary Patricia King welcomed the Government move and acknowledged its swift response. She said the measures were “essential to protect the productive capacity of the economy and prevent a depression.”

King also stressed the importance of the scheme to workers. “These wage subsidies will help put workers’ minds at ease and enable them and their families to meet the immediate challenge at hand – beating Covid-19,” she said.

Last week, ICTU demanded ambitious Government measures to preserve workers’ jobs and incomes. It called for a temporary wage subsidiary scheme similar to the one unveiled yesterday.

ICTU says it will work with Government and employers, at national and firm level, to support the jobs and incomes of all affected workers – and top ensure that employers who can pay the remaining 30% of workers’ pay.

The emergency measures were also welcomed by the business group IBEC, who have labelled the move as crucial in enabling the economy to bounce back from the Covid-19 emergency.

For more information on the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme click HERE.