In general, the supports provided by my Department’s agencies are designed to support business development through a range of start-up and expansion programmes. In relation to the recruitment of employees, Enterprise Ireland provides grant support up to a maximum of €15,000 per job towards the recruitment of new employees under its Job Expansion Fund. This scheme applies to SMEs which have been trading for at least two years with 10 or more full time employees, in manufacturing and/or high-growth potential traded services. Companies must be looking to recruit a minimum of three new employees per application. Enterprise Ireland can also provide partial funding towards the cost of recruiting a key manager with skills that are crucial to the future growth of client companies, but this is not intended to be a general recruitment subsidy.
Financial assistance for employers who wish to take on new employees is more generally available through Revenue’s Job Assist scheme and the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive scheme operated by the Department of Social Protection.
Under Job Assist, an employer who recruits a person who has been on the Live Register for 12 months or more is entitled to a double write-off of the person’s wages and employer’s PRSI for three years.
Under the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive scheme, employers are exempt from the payment of employer’s PRSI contribution for 18 months if they recruit a person who has been on the Live Register for six months or longer.
The take-up of these two schemes has been quite poor, in spite of increased promotion of the schemes under the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. Under the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs, therefore, the Government has announced the introduction of a new single simplified scheme to replace Job Assist and the PRSI Incentive scheme from the middle of this year.
The new JobsPlus scheme will provide a fixed grant payment to businesses for each new employee recruited from the Live Register who has been unemployed for 12 months or more. In order to target the scheme in favour of the more long term unemployed, the value of the incentive will be set at two levels: €7,500 in respect of recruits unemployed for more than 12 months but less than 24 months; and €10,000 in respect of recruits unemployed for more than 24 months.
It is proposed that the new incentive will be payable on a monthly basis, in arrears, over a two year period.
The JobsPlus scheme will be operated by the Department of Social Protection. Pending its introduction, Revenue Job Assist and the Employer Job (PRSI) Incentive scheme will continue to operate.