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Updated Revenue Guidance on Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme: Employees returning from maternity and other leaves

Government Announcement:

On Friday 29th May, the Government announced an amendment to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). The purpose of the amendment was to fix an anomaly in the scheme whereby employees who had been on certain types of unpaid or partially paid leave (e.g. maternity leave) during January and February, 2020 were previously either ineligible for the scheme or were only eligible for a partial subsidy.

Under the TWSS where an employer qualifies for the scheme, subsidy payments for eligible employees are paid to the employer and then passed on from the employer to the employee. The benefit of the scheme is that it encourages employers who are suffering a hit to their business due to Covid-19 to keep employees on the payroll instead of putting them on unpaid layoff or terminating the employment relationship altogether.  

We discussed the above mentioned Government announcement of 29th May and a number of other announcements in our previous article entitled “Covid-19 and Employment Law – Milestones in May” available here.

We also discussed the TWSS generally and previous updates to that scheme in our articles entitled “Covid-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Schemeavailable here and “Update in respect of the Covid-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme” available here .

Updated Revenue Guidance:

Following on from the Government announcement on 29th May, Revenue has now updated its guidance to take account of how the amendment to the TWSS in order to correct the above mentioned anomaly is to be implemented in practice.  

The new Revenue Guidance confirms that employers can now request that an employee be treated as an eligible employee for the purposes of the TWSS where:

For the purpose of this article employees falling into either of the above two categories will be referred to as “Returning Employees”.

Applying to add a Returning Employee to the TWSS:

Revenue has established a new system to process applications for subsidy payments for Returning Employees. 

As of the date of this Article, the specific process to be followed by employers in order to ensure Returning Employees can now receive subsidy payments under the TWSS is available at paragraph 13.15.1 of Revenue’s FAQ document available here.

 The process includes a downloadable form that will need to be filled out by the employer.

Pay Details of the Returning Employee:

One of the things the employer will need to include on the downloadable form is details regarding the Returning Employee’s pay. In particular the employer will need to inform Revenue of the Returning Employee’s normal contractual gross pay (excluding notional pay). The Revenue Guidance envisages that this means the amount of gross pay that an employee would understand as their normal periodic gross pay e.g. annual salary, weekly/monthly wage or daily/hourly rate. It should exclude any amounts in respect of notional pay like benefit-in-kind. Overtime payments should also be excluded.

The Revenue Guidance confirms that if the Returning Employee is paid an hourly rate, then the employer should provide confirmation of normal contracted hours per week or normal expected hours per week.

Revenue will then determine a Calculated Revenue Net Weekly Pay (CRNWP) for each Returning Employee concerned and will use the CRNWP figure to calculate the maximum weekly wage subsidy the Returning Employee will be eligible for.

It appears from the Revenue Guidance that, this CRNWP figure will be treated as equivalent to the Average Revenue Net Weekly Pay (ARNWP) figure. The ARNWP figure is the pre Covid-19 pay figure that is ordinarily used to calculate the subsidy entitlement for employees who worked as normal in January/February 2020. 

Retrospection:

The subsidy will be backdated to 26th March, 2020, the date that the Returning Employee returned to employment or the date the employer was registered for the scheme, whichever is latest. This is referred to as “retrospection”.

In the case of any Returning Employee who had been in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) from the DEASP, no retrospection will apply for the periods that individual had been in receipt of the PUP.

Processing Times:

Revenue has confirmed it will make best efforts to process applications for Returning Employees under these arrangements within a matter of days, with a view to finalising any claims for the employer’s next payroll run. Revenue has confirmed that refunds in respect of previous pay dates will take longer to process and are expected to take a number of weeks.

Author – Laura Reid and Anne O’Connell

Dated this 12th June, 2020

Anne O’Connell

Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall

Fitzwilliam Place

Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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