Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Questions (47, 62)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

47. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance the measures in place for employees in receipt of the temporary wage subsidy scheme in which an employer is not topping up pay and employees are working full-time for a significant reduced take home pay without any consultation from the employer to the employee on accepting a reduced salary; if it is intended for the scheme to be used in this manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9477/20]

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Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

62. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance the measures in place for employees in receipt of the temporary wage subsidy scheme in cases in which an employer is not topping up pay and employees are being instructed to work full-time for a significant reduced take-home pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8592/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 62 together.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) is provided for in section 28 of the recently enacted Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020. In the context of the compelling need for immediate implementation of the TWSS, the scheme necessarily had to build on data returned to Revenue through its real-time PAYE system.

The key prescribed conditions of the scheme are that –

- the business is suffering significant negative economic impact due to the pandemic and is unable to pay normal wages to employees, but wishes to continue to employ the employees and is making best efforts to continue to pay some wages to the employees,

- the employees were on the payroll at 29 February 2020, and

- the employer had fulfilled its PAYE reporting obligations for February 2020 before, in general, 15 March 2020, but recently extended to before the 1 April 2020.

The latter two conditions were particularly designed with a view to preventing abuse of the scheme.

The amount of the temporary wage subsidy payable in relation to eligible employees is based on the average net weekly pay reported for January and February 2020 for each employee.

I clarified in my letter of 16 April 2020 to Revenue, which set out my determinations of the amounts of wage subsidy to be payable in relation to different classes of employees, that for the purposes of the operation of the TWSS, the Average Revenue Net Weekly Pay is the employee’s average net weekly pay for January and February 2020 based on the payroll submissions made by the employer concerned to Revenue. It is a matter for each employer concerned to decide what amount of normal wages should be paid to employees in addition to the wage subsidy amounts, and whether to try match the employees’ previous gross or net pay. Ultimately, what employees are most concerned about is how near the aggregate of the wage subsidy amount plus whatever amount of normal wages is being paid net to them by employers is to their normal take home pay.

Revenue has confirmed that it has now implemented the revised rates of wage subsidy as determined by me on 16 April 2020, with the remainder to be implemented shortly. The revised rates apply as respects payroll notifications received by Revenue on or after 4 May 2020 in respect of payroll runs to be made on or after that date. The revised rate now implemented include:

the 85% subsidy rate for employees whose average net weekly pay does not exceed €412,

- non-tapering of the 85% subsidy where an employer contribution of more than 15% of the employees net weekly pay results in a salary payment of up to €350 per week,

- the flat rate subsidy of up to €350 for employees whose average net weekly pay is more than €412 but less than €500,

- the 70% subsidy rate for employees whose average net weekly pay is more than €500 but less than €586, with a maximum subsidy of €410 applying,

- a maximum payment of €350 per week for employees whose average net weekly pay is greater than €586 per week but not more than €960 per week, subject to specific tapering reductions based on the employer contribution to the net weekly earnings.

It is important to note that the TWSS is operated in real-time by employers through the normal payroll process. To ensure that subsidy amounts are paid to employees on a timely basis as part of the relevant payroll run, it is necessary to calculate the amount of the subsidy due to an employee based on the employee’s gross pay. This is necessary as an employee’s net pay cannot be fully determined before the actual payroll is run. Revenue is aware that, in effect, this means that for some employees where the employer pays between (net weekly) €586 and €960, the full amount of the subsidy due to an employee may not be paid through the payroll run concerned. However, Revenue has confirmed it will be implementing a system development to ensure that any subsidy amounts that remain due to such employees will be calculated, by Revenue, following the submission of the actual payroll or payrolls. Arrangements will then be made by Revenue to pay any outstanding subsidy amount directly to the employees concerned. The necessary system development to achieve this will be implemented shortly and will be applied retrospectively from 4 May 2020 to any impacted weekly, fortnightly or monthly paid employees.

Finally, I am advised by the Minster for Employment Affairs and Social Protection that workers who are in receipt of the one parent family payment or the working family payment will continue to receive these payments during their temporary layoff as a result of the Covid-19 related closures provided they continue to meet the eligibility conditions for these schemes. In relation to Working Family Payment, it continues to be paid to persons who have experienced a temporary loss of employment, or a reduction in their working hours as a result of COVID-19. It is open to any person who considers that their circumstances have changed to request a review of their claim. If this results in an increased rate of payment, this increase will be backdated accordingly. A reduction in a rate of payment is normally only applied from a current date, unless there is evidence that a person knowingly misled the Department or failed to report a change in their circumstances.