Section 28B of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 provides for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) which is an economy-wide enterprise support for eligible businesses. EWSS provides a subsidy to qualifying employers, based on the number of qualifying employees on the payroll.
As an economy-wide support, the EWSS has played a central role in supporting businesses, encouraging employment and helping to maintain the link between employers and employees since July 2020. To date (9 December 2021), payments of approximately €5.73 billion and PRSI credit of over €902 million have been granted to 51,700 employers in respect of some 696,900 workers.
The EWSS is operated on a self-assessment basis with the onus on applicants to satisfy themselves that they fully meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme as set down in the legislation and to self-declare to Revenue that they correctly qualify.
Generally, for pay dates on or between 1 July 2021 and 30 April 2022, to qualify for EWSS, a business must experience a minimum 30% reduction in turnover or customer orders in the period 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021, due to Covid-19. A business must also have a valid tax clearance certificate.
The reference period for businesses that started trading prior to 1 January 2019, is 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. However, some businesses may have only commenced operations during 2019, therefore, the EWSS provides alternative reference periods for those businesses, with a view to ensuring that they would have the opportunity to qualify for the scheme.
The reference period for businesses that started trading between 1 January 2019 and 31 October 2019 is from their commencement date to 31 December 2019. For businesses that started trading on or after 1 November 2019, the reference period is the projected turnover or customer orders from 1 January 2021 (or when the business started, if later) to 31 December 2021, i.e. as if the pandemic had not occurred. The latter arrangement was put in place because no turnover, or relatively little turnover, in respect of 2019 exists, which should not be the case for businesses that were trading prior to 1 November 2019.
I am advised by Revenue that the business in question started trading in August 2019 and as such is required to compare its turnover or customer orders for the period August to December 2021 against the equivalent period in 2019 in respect of pay dates falling between 1 July 2021 and 30 April 2022. The information provided by the business to Revenue in respect of 2021 (to date) confirmed an increase in turnover, rather than any reduction, when compared to 2019, thereby rendering it ineligible for the EWSS for the period in question.
Finally, I am satisfied that the eligibility criteria for the EWSS, as provided for in the legislation, is sufficiently inclusive to cover the different scenarios that arise for businesses in fair and reasonable manner for the majority of businesses and I have no current plans to review the eligibility criteria.