Politics & Policies

COVID and Wage Subsidy in Ireland – Some anomalies

While praise is due to civil servants who have turned these schemes around with unusual rapidity, there have also been anomalies, resulting in some people being better off being laid off than kept on by their employer – particularly those in lower paid jobs.

RTÉ has been told of examples of younger workers, for example students with part-time jobs, who have been laid off, and qualify for the flat-rate Covid-19 Pandemic Payment of €350 – far more than they were actually earning in employment.

At the same time, workers who have been kept on, for instance in frontline grocery retail, are earning less than the €350 welfare payment while working a full week’s hours.

Meanwhile there are further problems for workers earning above €76,000 – who are ineligible for the TWSS.

Some employers argue that without the State’s TWSS subsidy, they cannot afford to keep on these highly skilled employees at the upper end of the pay scale and may have to lay them off.

They point out that this runs counter to the Government’s stated aim of the scheme of maintaining the employer-employee link.

We spoke to one worker in the construction sector who misses out on qualifying for the TWSS by €5 per week – and knows his employer simply can’t afford to keep him on without the subsidy.

The Construction Industry Federation has written to the Government urging it to open the TWSS to all workers, giving them a flat rate refund of €350 including for the higher paid so they at least have a financial floor.

Firms like Hidden Hearing Ireland have written to the Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys pointing out that they may have to lay off up to 120 highly skilled audiologists because the scheme does not cover employees earning above €76,000.

In addition, while 39,000-plus employers who have signed up for the TWSS are receiving state refunds for a portion of wages, not all are topping up from their own resources – a previous request (but not an obligation) from the Government.

Ryanair told RTÉ it will be applying the rules of the TWSS in full, as the Covid-19 crisis has led to flights being reduced by over 99% (from over 2,500 daily flights to just 20) and the working hours for pilots and cabin crew effectively cut to zero.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Legacy of Covid-19 will long linger over labour force

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