Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (96)

Bríd Smith

Question:

96. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance if a company (details supplied) is in receipt of the new employment subsidy scheme for its workforce; if so, the reason; the oversight and safeguards in place to ensure all companies in receipt of the subsidies are dispensing the funds to their employees; the number of employees that are topping up their employees’ wages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26001/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that under Section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, Revenue is precluded by reason of its taxpayer confidentiality obligations, from providing any details in relation to the company in question.

The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which was provided for in section 28 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020, expired on 31 August 2020. The TWSS has now been replaced by the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which was legislated for under the recently enacted Financial Provisions (Covid-19) (No. 2) Act 2020. The specific nature and terms of the EWSS arrangement are separate and distinct from the TWSS. Furthermore, as the EWSS provides payments to employers rather than employees, the issue of top-ups or additional payments (to employees) does not arise. This is different to the TWSS where in excess of 80% of employees regularly received a top-up additional payment from their employers.

Where an eligible employer makes a payment of wages, within prescribed limits, to a qualifying employee during the scheme, the employer can claim a EWSS subsidy in respect of that employee. In effect, the EWSS provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers, based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll. For every qualifying employee paid between €203 and €1,462 gross wages per week, the level of subsidy is €203. For every qualifying employee paid between €151.50 and €202.99 gross per week, the subsidy is €151.50. No subsidy is paid for employees paid less than €151.50 gross or more than €1,462 gross per week.

I have been advised by Revenue that the question of an individual’s entitlements in an employment context, and the question of what wages an employer may or may not be in a position to pay such an employee in the light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the employer’s business, are matters that are outside the remit of the EWSS. Essentially, the scheme has no role in relation to the employer/employee relationship in so far as the terms, conditions and entitlements of the employment are concerned, subject, of course, to the employer paying the requisite amount of gross wages to an employee, as outlined above, in order to qualify for subsidy in relation to the employee

Revenue has begun to publish weekly statistics updates on the EWSS as employers continue to complete the registration process. These statistics are available at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/number-of-taxpayers-and-returns/covid-19-wage-subsidy-scheme-statistics.aspx.

As shown in the publications at the above link, by 17 September 2020, over 34,300 employers had registered for EWSS. The statistics (dated 17 September) show the breakdown of the registered employers by size, sector and county.

The payslip information for EWSS recipient employers for the period 1 September onwards will be available in October and Revenue has confirmed that it will publish this information as soon as is practicable after that date.