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.
The objective of the EWSS is to support 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 €3.29 billion and PRSI credit of over €540 million have been granted to 49,500 employers in respect of some 570,000 workers.
Other members of the Government and I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS and, as the Deputy will be aware, the scheme is currently scheduled to run until the end of this month. The COVID Restrictions Support Scheme has been similarly extended.
On many occasions over recent months, I have indicated to the House in responses to questions from Deputies that consideration was being given to the fact that continued support could be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable businesses and employment and to provide businesses with certainty to the maximum extent possible.
Subject to the deliberations of Government, the Deputy may expect to hear further details today in this regard in relation to the EWSS.
I can also assure the Deputy that the Government will continue to assess matters as we move forward with the reopening of the economy and I will continue to work with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that appropriate supports are in place to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic as far as possible.