Following on from our article last week on the COVID-19 pandemic,[1] the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (the “Department”) has since introduced further measures to assist businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Department, together with the Irish Revenue Commissioners (“Revenue”), have introduced what is called the “Refund Scheme.” The Refund Scheme allows the employer to pay the worker €203 per week and receive a refund from the State where the employer has ceased trading and as a result of financial difficulty, has had to temporarily lay off staff. In order to access the Refund Scheme, employers will need to register on Revenue Online System (“ROS”) and ensure that they are up to date with their payroll returns.

Once the employer has applied successfully, they will pay a weekly special support payment of €203 to their existing eligible employee(s) who have been being temporarily laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue will subsequently refund employers who have made this payment to employees that have been laid off, when a payroll submission is received from the employer.[2] 

Eligible employees who qualify for the Refund Scheme are:

Where an employee is eligible to apply for the Refund Scheme, s/he should also confirm to their employer that they have not and will not claim a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment in cases where the employer is retaining them on the payroll in order to pay €203 per week.

Are part-time workers entitled to apply for the Refund Scheme?

In respect of workers who normally only work part-time, s/he should confirm with their employer that they do not have an additional employer before applying for the Refund Scheme. It should also be noted that as the €203 is a flat rate weekly payment, all workers including those working on a part-time basis, are eligible to be paid the full €203.

Does the Refund Scheme apply if an employee is made redundant? 

Employees who have been made redundant as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are entitled to apply for the €203 unemployment payment. As the employment relationship has ceased by reason of redundancy, the Refund Scheme does not apply, and the employee will need to apply for this payment directly from the Department themselves.

Are employers engaged in the Refund Scheme allowed to top-up the €203 payment?

The Department has confirmed that employers engaged with the Refund Scheme will be allowed to top up the payment provided by the State. The details for this are currently being finalised by the Department and will be announced in early course.

How long will the Refund Scheme be available to employers?

The Department and Revenue have advised that the Refund Scheme is expected to operate for an initial six weeks. The duration will depend on how the COVID-19 situation evolves but that any closure of the Refund Scheme will be communicated in advance.

We will continue to update you on any future developments on this scheme, as and when they arise. 

We are available to discuss any issues that may arise for you as a result of your evolving obligations as an employer during this time of uncertainty. For further information, please contact Bláthnaid Evans or Sheila Spokes, +353 1 639 3000 or visit www.leman.ie.

[1] You can access our previous article here

[2] Further detail on applying for the Refund Scheme can be found on Revenue’s guidance for employers