Level 5 changes to the EWSS and PUP, 27 October

Oct 27, 2020

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, confirmed that improvements to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) would be made to take account of the new Level 5 restrictions, in his speech on Monday night last week. These improvements take the form of a new payment structure for the PUP and a change to payment rates under the EWSS. The frequency of EWSS payments is also accelerated, to align subsidy payments with the employer’s payroll frequency. Chartered Accountants Ireland lobbied for this improvement since the commencement of the EWSS.

The new payment structure for the PUP is as follows:

Prior weekly earnings (gross)PUP Payment
Less than €200€203
€200 - €299.99€250
€300 - €399.99€300
Greater than €400€350

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection confirmed that payments made on Tuesday 27 October will include the new rate.

In efforts to align the PUP amendments with the EWSS, the revised payment rates/bands for the EWSS, are as follows:

Employee gross weekly paySubsidy payable
Less than €151Nil
€151 - €202.99€203
€203 - €299.99€250
€300 - €399.99€300
€400 - €1,462€350
Greater than €1,462Nil

The revised rates under the EWSS are effective from the next payroll date after 19 October and will run to the end of January 2021.

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, TD commented:

“It is estimated that increased spending on the enhanced Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and the new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) combined with falls in tax revenue over the next 6 weeks could amount to a further €1¼billion, on top of what had already been provided for. This will bring our deficit from -6.2% of GDP to -6.5% for 2020.”

In a recent press release, Revenue confirmed that the frequency of EWSS payments is to be changed so that they are made on a similar basis to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). Chartered Accountants Ireland lobbied for the frequency of EWSS payments to be aligned with the employer’s payroll frequency since the EWSS came into effect on 1 September. This is an essential cashflow support for many employers at this time.

Revenue detailed that the first EWSS payments in respect of November payrolls will be made in early November, rather than by 5 December. Thereafter, subsequent payments for November will be paid following the receipt of a payroll submission containing an EWSS claim.

Revenue are reminding employers who may have not previously qualified for the EWSS, that the scheme continues to be available to them as they face into Level 5 restrictions. Once an employer meets the qualifying criteria, they can register for the EWSS and receive subsidy payments for payroll submissions with a pay date on or after the date of registration. Revenue’s EWSS Guidelines were recently updated to include examples for businesses closed due to Level 5 restrictions.

The Department of Finance confirmed that it is intended that a legislative amendment to give effect to the enhancements to the rates of subsidy available under the EWSS, announced earlier last week, will be introduced during the passage of the Finance Bill 2020 through the Oireachtas.