Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Ceisteanna (32, 59, 82)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

32. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if persons that work in the hospitality sector during busy periods, that is, seasonal workers, are eligible for the temporary wage subsidy scheme. [11765/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Colm Burke

Ceist:

59. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Finance if supports, including the existing Covid-19 subsidy supports, will be in place for businesses that are seasonal which would normally open in March or April; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12021/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Butler

Ceist:

82. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding specific financial supports available to seasonal publicans that also serve food but have been closed during the Covid-19 pandemic months and will incur significant expenses in preparing their premises to reopen; his views on whether seasonal proprietors in such a position might not be in a position to reopen without tailored financial supports; his further views on the way in which such seasonal businesses can be supported; the position regarding the availability of the temporary wage subsidy scheme to seasonal proprietors in view of the fact they cannot provide payroll data for reference months such as January and February 2020 due to the fact they are primarily open in the summer months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12607/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32, 59 and 82 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.

The TWSS is an emergency measure to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. Of necessity, the underlying legislation and the scheme itself were developed quickly, having regard to the urgent Government objective of getting assistance to employers and employees, where businesses have been seriously affected by the pandemic and the necessary restrictions introduced to fight the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It must be accepted that the TWSS cannot be adapted to meet the particular circumstances of individual employers or employees.

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 conditions of the scheme, as prescribed in the underlying law, are that -

- the business is suffering significant negative economic impact due to the pandemic,

- 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 extended recently to 1 April 2020.

The latter two conditions were particularly designed with a view to preventing abuse of the scheme. The wage subsidy per employee is calculated based on the net pay reported for January and February 2020. The scheme does not distinguish between ordinary wages, shift allowances, overtime, bonuses or commission or between part-time or full-time employees. Moreover, the scheme has no role in relation to the employer/employee relationship in so far as terms, conditions and entitlements of the employment are concerned.

Accordingly, it follows that the TWSS can only operate in respect of an employee, whether full-time or part-time, who was on the payroll of the employer as at 29 February 2020. Thus, where an individual commenced a new employment after that date, or returned to the payroll of his or her employer after that date following a period of unpaid leave, he or she does not meet the eligibility criteria with the employer as he or she would not have been on the employer’s payroll at that date.

The Deputies will be aware that the Government decided on 5 June 2020 to extend the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) until the end of August. The intention is to continue to monitor the scheme closely in the coming period. I expect that decisions will be taken at an appropriate time on next steps for the TWSS beyond end-August. In this regard, I acknowledge that certain sectors will face particular challenges into the future as we re-open our economy, and this is one of many factors that will inform such future decisions.

However, there are no plans at the present moment to revisit the core criteria. The TWSS is built upon historic PAYE returns made to Revenue – this is fundamental to the operational of the scheme which has given support to over 530,000 employees.

In relation to other direct support measures, I would draw the Deputies' attention to a recent publication by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which outlines the key financial supports and resources that are being made available to help all businesses and sectors impacted by Covid-19. This publication is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c644c0-supports-for-businesses-impacted-by-covid-19/