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Press Release

Minister Doherty announces details of the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme

Published: 18 March 2020
From: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Also provides update on demand for the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty today announced details of how the government would refund employers who temporarily laid off their employees but are continuing to pay them €203 per week during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation.

Recently, the Minister announced the implementation of exceptional measures to enable workers who are temporarily laid off claim a special COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €203 per week.

Refund Scheme

At the time the new payment was announced, the Minister indicated that the preference of the government is that the new payment would, as far as possible, be made via employer payrolls.

In addition to minimising the demand on the processing capacity of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection this approach would, critically, help maintain the link between employers and workers and make the return to work more seamless.

In support of this approach the Minister also stated that the department would introduce a refund scheme for employers who kept workers on their payroll during the period of a temporary lay-off.

The approach to this refund scheme has now been agreed. Revenue has come forward and offered to implement the refund system on the department’s behalf. The Minister wishes to acknowledge the support of the Revenue Commissioners as it will help speed up the refund process and reduce the need for employers to rely on short-term finance.

Under the arrangement developed with Revenue, employers who have to temporarily lay-off staff and who are not in a position to make any wage payment to them, are asked to keep their employees on the payroll and pay them an amount of €203 - the equivalent of the COVID-19 Support Payment. When they submit payroll returns to Revenue via their payroll provider, Revenue will refund the employer the €203.

The Minister emphasised:

“This is a significant departure from our normal approach but meets a critical and immediate demand to address instant income needs of workers who have been temporarily laid off while also allowing them to stay on the employer payroll – a reassurance that they will, in all likelihood, have a job to return to. We are very appreciative of the work not just of Revenue but of the cooperation of employers and their payroll providers.”

In order to ensure workers who have child and adult dependants receive their full entitlements, these individuals will be asked to apply for Jobseeker’s Benefit via the online portal www.mywelfare.ie.

Please see further information on the scheme on the Revenue Commissioner's website.

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments Update

Meanwhile, since its announcement, the department has received over 50,000 claims from people who have been laid-off for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payments. This indicates the huge impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our economy and on our people.

The Minister acknowledges that this is an incredibly difficult time for many people, particularly those people who lose their jobs, even if this loss is temporary.

She said:

“The measures taken already are extraordinary but this is an extraordinary time. There is great uncertainty and much anxiety about what lies ahead. The loss of a job and an income increases this anxiety and stress. We are doing all we can to help people through this anxiety.
“The new payment we introduced is just one measure and it means that we can get people into payment as quickly as possible. Hopefully this will provide some measure of reassurance to people unfortunate to be laid-off. We are also calling on banks, landlords, utility providers and others to exercise forbearance with regard to payments of mortgages, rent and utility bills.”

The Minister also wishes to record her gratitude for the exceptional work of the staff of her department:

“Processing 50,000 claims represents close to two months normal jobseeker claim-load. This was managed in a two-day period for a new payment that didn’t exist a week ago, on new systems that had to be developed and implemented and on the basis of new legislation that is going before the Oireachtas tomorrow – It required a huge commitment and very long hours of work, and I couldn’t be prouder of the staff of the department.”

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

Further information and Revenue guidelines will be published on the department’s website from tomorrow Thursday.

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