Section 28B of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 provides for the operation of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which is an economy-wide enterprise support for eligible businesses in respect of eligible employees. It provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of paid and eligible employees on the employer’s payroll and charges a reduced rate of employer PRSI of 0.5% on wages paid which are eligible for the subsidy payment.
While the criteria for eligibility for business in general is based on a reduction in turnover, as a result of the pandemic and having regard to the importance of maintaining the provision of childcare facilities so as to enable parents to continue in, or to take up, positions of employment, the legislation provided that childcare businesses in possession of tax clearance and registered in accordance with Section 58C of the Childcare Act 1991 are eligible for the EWSS.
The objective of the scheme is to support all employment and maintain the link between the employer and employee insofar as is possible. The EWSS has been a key component of the Government’s response to the continued Covid-19 crisis to support viable firms and encourage employment in the midst of these very challenging times. To date, payments of over €4.76 billion and PRSI credit of over €750 million have been granted to 51,400 employers in respect of 656,900 workers.
I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS and, as the Deputy will be aware from announcements made in June, it has been decided that the scheme is now to be extended until the end of December 2021. For Q3 2021, the Government has decided to broadly maintain the status quo for EWSS, including the enhanced rates of support, with a modification to widen eligibility, and maintaining the reduced rate of Employers’ PRSI of 0.5%.
Decisions in relation to the configuration of the EWSS in Q4 2021 in relation to its various aspects will be addressed shortly. Also, no decisions have been taken in relation to future of the scheme beyond the end of Q4, 2021.
The Government remains fully committed to supporting businesses and employers insofar as is possible at this time.