The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) expired on 31 August 2020. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the TWSS from 1 September, as the Government’s focus has shifted from an employee income support paid via the employer that maintained the existing employee/employer relationship insofar as was possible, to a direct employer subsidy to help support viable firms and encourage employment, including prospective employment of new hires and seasonal workers.
As regards employer eligibility for the scheme, an employer must be able to demonstrate that their business will experience a 30% reduction in turnover or orders between 1 July and 31 December 2020 as compared to the corresponding 2019 period as a result of the disruption to business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, and unlike TWSS, the employer must have a tax clearance certificate to be eligible to join the EWSS and must continue to meet the requirements for tax clearance throughout the scheme.
I would point out to the Deputy that the EWSS legislation contains a number of important safeguards and flexibilities in so far as the scheme’s operation and effectiveness is concerned. I, as Minister for Finance, am required under the law to monitor and superintend the administration of the scheme and to have economic assessments made every 2 months.
It is also noted that the EWSS legislation requires that immediately at the end of each month, from August 2020 onwards, each employer availing of the scheme must carry out a self-review of its business circumstances and if it is manifest to the employer that it no longer meets the eligibility test for qualification for the scheme, then the employer must immediately cease claiming wage subsidy payments.
Finally, the administration of the EWSS is placed under the care and management of Revenue, as was done with its predecessor, the TWSS. The Deputy will be aware of Revenue’s ongoing compliance programme relating to the TWSS. While Revenue’s focus on the EWSS in these early stages is no doubt concentrated on getting the scheme up and running and ensuring that all employers who are eligible for subsidy payments receive the payments quickly, I understand that Revenue will, in due course, undertake an appropriate employer compliance campaign relating to the EWSS.