Social Welfare Provisions under COVID-19

Denis Breen

by Denis Breen

Posted Apr 03, 2020 in Business

Update for Employers.

The following document has been compiled from reports published by the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social Protection, the HSE, our Banking Institutes etc, and may be of interest to you or your Business. 

Social Welfare Provisions for COVID-19 Pandemic

Employees of businesses that are required to close due to COVID-19 Pandemic, or to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Support. 

The Social Welfare provisions are as follows:

  • COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is a new social welfare payment for employees and self-employed people who have lost their jobs or have been made unemployed during the pandemic.
  • Employees should register with their Social Welfare office immediately to be put in payment. They can register online or print off the form, complete and post or deliver to their local office. The Form is called a ‘COVID UP’ Form.
  • The employee’s payment is €203 per week and lasts for 6 weeks. It is advisable that they also register a claim with social welfare for Jobseekers in case they are still unemployed after the 6 weeks and may be entitled to more if they have dependents. That is why applying for Jobseekers is so important. Any under-payment may be backdated.
  • If employees are put on part-time or reduced hours they should register with the Social welfare for the appropriate payment, similar to a casual payment for part-time employees.
  • If an employee falls ill, has symptoms or has been advised under HSE Guidelines to self-isolate, there is an Enhanced payment of €305 per week, for two weeks available to that employee also. The G.P. of the individual completes a Sick Cert and sends this to the Social Welfare department advising them of the Suspected symptoms or condition. 

Revenue Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme

On the 15th of March 2020, the Government announced the implementation of exceptional measures, administered through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), to enable workers who are temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic to claim a special support payment of €203 per week, for 6 weeks. (See Social Welfare provisions above). Revenue have worked closely with DEASP to provide an option for employers to make this payment to their employees through the normal payroll process. The amounts paid to the employee are not subject to taxes and the amounts paid to employees will be transferred into the employer’s bank account by Revenue.

Revenue have advised on the following:

  • The scheme can be operated for all employees for whom a payroll submission was made by the employer in the period from 01/02/2020 to 15/02/2020. Where employees have already been laid off and their employers have ceased their employment, they can apply directly to DEASP for payment.
  • This payment scheme is only for temporarily lay-offs as a result of the pandemic, and must apply to all employees due the business closing its doors.
  • Employers are unable to make top-ups over and above the €203 on this scheme and they will not qualify for refund if they do. 
  • If employers can not make the payment or may not have cashflow to continue, it advisable that the employees seek payment directly from DEASP, see above.
  • Only employers that are up-to-date with their payroll submissions can operate this scheme.
  • To operate this Payroll scheme, the employer or employer’s agent are required to contact Revenue through ‘My Enquires’. There is a special drop-down available here called ‘Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme’. The employer reads the declaration and submits.
  • The employer should make sure the bank details for refunds are correct, this can be done by visiting the ROS page under ‘Manage EFT’.
  • The payroll provider changes the PRSI Classes of all employees to J9.
  • A Basic payment of €0.01 is entered on the payslip.
  • A non-taxable payment code must be created on payslip to allow the entry of €203 to be paid without taxing it. (Similar to employee expenses paid through payroll)
  • No other payments should be included on these payslips.
  • The payroll submission must include pay frequency and period number.
  • If an Income tax or USC refund arises due to accumulated credits etc, this can be repaid to the employee also.
  • The employee must confirm to the employer that they have not, nor will apply for any other Social welfare payment when this scheme is in place.
  • A credit for these paid amounts will be transferred to the employers back account the following day after submission of the payroll. Provided it was submitted before 2.00pm the day previous.
  • If employees resume employment this payment must stop accordingly.
  • If employees are permanently ceased employment, the termination date should be entered on the payroll and the scheme stopped immediately.
  • There are no partial payments for part weeks, only whole weeks. So, if an employee is laid off of a Wednesday, they will receive no scheme payment for that part of the week and will be eligible for the full payment the following week.
  • If employees are properly due outstanding payments prior to being laid off, such as back-pay or holiday pay, this must be reported in a payroll submission for a week other than the refund scheme week.
  • Employers are encouraged to advise employees to make a Jobseekers Benefit claim via ‘’ portal while this scheme is being operated, especially if the term of unemployment may exceed the 6 weeks.
  • The initial 6 weeks of this scheme may be for review by DEASP and Revenue as time goes on and may be extended.

Revenue Commissioners and SME’s\subcontractors\importers

Ireland’s Revenue Commissioner has outlined actions to assist SME businesses who will be experiencing cashflow and trading problems because of the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic.

For SMEs:

Tax Returns: Businesses experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties should continue to send in tax returns on time.

Application of Interest: The application of interest on late payments is suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employers) liabilities.

Debt Enforcement: All debt enforcement activity is suspended until further notice.

Tax Clearance: Current tax clearance status will remain in place for all businesses over the coming months.

For subcontractors:

RCT (Relevant Contract Tax): The RCT rate review scheduled to take place in March 2020 is suspended. This process assesses the current compliance position of each subcontractor in the eRCT system and determines their correct RCT deduction rate, i.e. 0pc, 20pc or 35pc. As this process may result in a subcontractor’s RCT rate increasing due to changes in their compliance position, the review is suspended.

Subcontractors and agents are reminded that RCT rate reviews can be self-managed in ROS. Subcontractors can check if their rate should be lower and can then ‘self-review’ to get that lower deduction rate.

For importers:

Customs: Critical pharmaceutical products and medicines will be given a Customs ‘green routing’ to facilitate uninterrupted importation and supply.

Revenue said that businesses, other than SMEs, who are experiencing temporary cash flow or trading difficulties should contact the Collector-General’s office on (01) 7383663. Alternatively, these businesses can engage directly with their branch contacts in Revenue’s Large Corporates Division or Medium Enterprises Division. 

SBCI Working Capital Scheme

A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI Website

Credit Guarantee Scheme

The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the pillar banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to seven years.

Enterprise Ireland

A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.

Grant supports

The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices and Údarás Na Gealtachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness. A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews.

Joint First Responder Support Service

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.

Local Enterprise Offices

Local Enterprise Offices in every county will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000 (with 50:50 match funding) to support business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity.

Microfinance Ireland

The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises (sole traders and firms with up to nine employees) are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI Website or through your Local LEO.

The above information should be read in conjunction with directives published by the Revenue Commissioners, The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, The HSE, Irish Financial Institutions and other Public bodies, as this information may change. It is advisable to contact the relevant body to query or expand on any of the above.

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