The wage subsidy scheme (WSS) was formally launched in 2005 and was one the employment support schemes for people with disabilities which transferred to the Department from FÁS in 2012. The scheme is aimed at employers with a view to incentivising the employment of people with disabilities in the open labour market. The WSS is payable where the employee works a minimum of 21 hours per week, and the employer must apply the same conditions of employment as for other employees – including minimum wage, PRSI, PAYE and annual leave requirements. The scheme is not statutorily-based and the operational guidelines require employees to surrender their primary social welfare payment if they take up employment for which the employer will receive a payment under WSS.
However, the legislation governing disability allowance (DA) allows claimants to avail of an earnings disregard (up to €120 per week without affecting their DA payment) if they take up employment (certified to be of a rehabilitative nature) and in practice, the WSS operational guidelines are not taken into consideration, so DA remains in payment. I should state that the Department is carrying out a comprehensive review of the employment support schemes which transferred from FÁS with a view to ensuring that the range of measures in place is fit for purpose – to facilitate and support people with disabilities to avail of employment opportunities.