As there’s so much information being circulated about supports and advice for business owners impacted by the Coronavirus crisis in Ireland we will curate all the various info and links we receive to help business owners researching plans to survive the unfolding crisis. We’ll post all new information at the top of this page:
If you think there’s anything we should share here email to us at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Essential Retail Outlets
Update from Retail Excellence Ireland, 27th March 2020
Please find the Government’s revised essential retail list here (27.03.2020 at 11.50pm) https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/625292-updated-list-of-essential-retail-outlets-27th-march-2020/
To assist with clarification of these measures, it is our understanding that the following channels of essential commerce must remain open:
- Health Food Stores – but only where there is essential demand (If you are located in a more or less closed shopping centre and there is no demand, then please close)
- Forecourt / Fuel
- Specialist pet stores and animal feed providers
- Supermarkets and butchers
- Online – Once you can operate within the HSE distancing and hygiene protocols
- Convenience stores / newsagents
- Laundries and Drycleaners
- Banks / Post Offices
It is our understanding that newly closed stores include:
- Garden Centres
- DIY / Hardware
- Telecommunication stores
- Consumer Electronic stores
Update from Retail Excellence Ireland, 25th March 2020
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that all non-essential retail outlets will close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement social distancing.
To assist the public and business owners the following is an indicative list of what are considered essential retail outlets:-
- Retail and wholesale sale of food, beverages and newspapers in non-specialised and specialised stores; includes health stores
- Retail sale of household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences and businesses;
- Pharmacies/Chemists and retailers providing pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical or dispensing services;
- Retail sale of selling medical and orthopaedic goods in specialised stores;
- Fuel stations and heating fuel providers;
- Retailers involved in the repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities (e.g. tyre sales and repairs);
- Retail sale of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding;
- Laundries and Drycleaners;
- Banks, Post Offices and Credit Unions;
- Retail sale of safety supply stores (for e.g. work clothes, Personal Protective Equipment);
- Hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening/farming/agriculture; includes Gardening Centres
- Retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses;
COVID-19 Information and advice for taxpayers and agents
Update from Revenue 24th March, 2020
- Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme
- Revenue services
- Compliance with certain reporting and filing obligations and the satisfaction of certain other tax related conditions
- Corporation Tax and presence in the State or outside the State resulting from COVID-related travel restrictions
- Relief from Excise Duty (Alcohol Products Tax) for the manufacture of hand sanitiser products
Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme
Today the Government announced new measures to provide financial support to Irish workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis. As part of these measures, Revenue will operate a Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. The scheme, enables employees, whose employers are affected by the pandemic, to receive significant supports directly from their employer. The scheme will run for 12 weeks from 26 March 2020. Draft legislation governing the scheme will be published shortly.
The operation of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will be available to employers who keep employees on the payroll throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning employers can retain links with employees for when business picks up after the crisis. Additionally, the operation of the scheme will reduce the burden on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) which is dealing with the other Covid-19 related payments.
Employers are encouraged to facilitate employees by operating the scheme, by retaining employees on their books and by making best efforts to maintain a significant, or 100% income, for the period of the scheme.
Key Features of the scheme
- Replaces the previous COVID-19 Refund Scheme.
- Initially, and from this Thursday (26 March 2020), the subsidy scheme will refund employers up to a maximum of €410 per each qualifying employee.
- However, employers should pay no more than the normal take home pay of the employee.
- The subsidy scheme applies to employers who top up employees’ wages and those that aren’t in a position to do so.
- Employers make this special support payment to their employees through their normal payroll process.
- Employers will then be reimbursed for amounts paid to employees and notified to Revenue via the payroll process.
- The reimbursement will, in general, be made within two working days after receipt of the payroll submission.
- In April, the scheme will move to a subsidy payment based on 70% of the weekly average take home pay for each employee up to a maximum of €410*.
- Income tax and USC will not be applied to the subsidy payment through the payroll.
- Employee PRSI will not apply to the subsidy or any top up payment by the employer.
- Employers PRSI will not apply to the subsidy will be reduced from 10.5% to 0.5% on the top up payment.
* (details on this will be made available by Revenue in due course).
Who does the scheme apply to?
The Scheme is available to employers from all sectors (excluding the public service and non-commercial semi-state sector) whose business activities are being adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme is available for employers who retain staff on payroll; some of the staff may be temporarily not working or some may be on reduced hours and/or reduced pay. Provided the employer meets the conditions set out below and subject to the levels of pay to the employees the employer may be eligible for the scheme for some or all of the employees.
To qualify for the scheme, employers must
- be experiencing significant negative economic disruption due to Covid-19
- be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of Revenue, a minimum of a 25% decline in turnover
- be unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings fully
- retain their employees on the payroll.
The Scheme is confined to employees who were on the employer’s payroll as at 29 February 2020, and for whom a payroll submission has already been made to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020.
The names of all employers operating this scheme will be published on Revenue’s website in due course, after the scheme has expired.
Registering for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme
Any employer, already registered with Revenue for the purposes of the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme, is not required to take any further action. The employer may make payroll submissions from 26 March 2020 under the subsidy scheme arrangements on the same basis as they were doing for the Employer Refund Scheme, and €410 will be refunded in respect of each eligible employee per week.
Employers, or their agents, wishing to register for the scheme can apply to Revenue by carrying out the following steps:
- Log on to ROS myEnquiries and select the category ‘Covid-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy’.
- Read the “Covid-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy Self-Declaration” and press the ‘Submit’ button.
- Ensure bank account details on Revenue record are correct. These can be checked in ROS and in ‘Manage bank accounts’, ‘Manage EFT’, enter the refund bank account that the refund is to be made to.
Operating the scheme from Thursday 26 March 2020
The employer runs the payroll as normal, entering the following details for each relevant employee under the Scheme:
- PRSI Class set to J9.
- A non-taxable amount equal to the employee’s net take home pay or €410 whichever is the lesser.
- If an employer is not making any payment to the employee, they should include a pay amount of €0.01 in Gross Pay.
- If an employer is making additional wage payments to affected employees, they should include this amount in the Gross Pay.
- It is important that employers do not include the Temporary Wage Subsidy payment in Gross Pay.
- The payroll submission must include pay frequency and period number.
Income tax, USC, LPT, if applicable, and PRSI are not deducted from the Temporary Wage Subsidy.
In many cases the payment of the Temporary Wage Subsidy and any additional income paid by the employer will result in the refund of Income Tax or USC already paid by the employee. Any Income Tax and USC refunds that arise as a result of the application of tax credits and rate bands can be repaid by the employer and Revenue will also refund this amount to the employer.
Employers must not operate this scheme for any employee who is making a claim for duplicate support (e.g. Pandemic Unemployment Payment) from the DEASP.
Based on the information provided in payroll submissions and adherence to the maximum limits, described above, Revenue will credit employers with the temporary wage subsidy paid to each employee.
Penalties will apply to any abuse of the Subsidy Scheme by self-declaring incorrectly, not providing funds to employees or non-adherence to Revenue, and any other relevant, guidelines.
For general issues relating to the scheme, employers should contact Revenue’s National Employer Helpdesk via the myEnquiries system, providing details of the query and a direct dial contact number.
Employers should make sure to select ‘Employer’s PAYE’ and then ‘Employer’s PAYE General Enquiry’ when submitting the query through myEnquiries.
Enterprise Ireland Coronavirus Business Response Plan Including All Available Supports For Business
Update from Enterprise Ireland 17th March 2020
Lay-Off Advice & General Update
Advice from Tom Smyth & Associates
Update from Tom Smyth & Associates via Retail Excellence Ireland – 16th March 2020
This advisory note provides general advice which you may find helpful at this time.
Individual employment factors such as the contract of employment, workplace customs/precedents and whether there is a full closure or reduced roster will influence HR and Employment Law decision making. Please contact our office for customised advice at any time.
The Government has announced a new emergency payment for the employed and self-employed who are placed ‘off work’ during this time. It is a payment for 6 weeks, accessed via the ‘Covid Pandemic Unemployment Form’. Information and a download of this form are available via the following link:
Employees fill in this form and post it via Freepost to the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection (DEASP) for processing. Anything the employer can do to assist their team to do this swiftly would be beneficial as there are going to be mass lay-offs this week.
During this 6 week period, a full jobseeker benefit form must be completed (https://services.mywelfare.ie/) but for now this is a quickfire form designed for prompt processing to minimise delay in availing of this welfare payment.
Basic Roadmap for Layoffs:
- Download an RP9 form. This is a form between you and your employee.
- Prepare a cover letter along the lines of the sample attached.
- Download the Covid Pandemic Unemployment Form (see link above). This is a form between your employee and the Dept of Social Protection (if you are not in a position to pay them at all).
- If possible, provide an envelope for employees so they can fill in this form and promptly get it to the DEASP.
- If you are remaining open, seek more detailed advice on ensuring that any roster reductions are made fairly to avoid unnecessary employees grievance or discrimination claims.
“Does ‘lay-off’ have to be in a Company’s contract of employment or handbook?”
No, but it helps. If you have a lay-off clause you are invoking a contractual or workplace policy. If you do not have such a clause you need the agreement of the employee going on lay-off or they may have a successful payment of wages claim down the line if you do not pay them Then again, these are extremely challenging times and we hope that all employees realise the position employers are being placed in.
“Can I top up employee wages?”
In normal circumstance, when claiming jobseekers from the state, an employee cannot be paid by their employer also. That still appears to be the case now if employees apply to welfare for their €203 per week.
As on Monday 16th, 9am, the Minister has encouraged employers to pay employees on lay off and has a promised employers a rebate for €203 of this but there is no clarity on any rebate for further payments beyond this.
“What happens after this?”
The new government emergency payment is for 6 weeks only. Obviously we are in a time of crisis and each employer will have to follow Government advice on when they can re-open. We will update you when we can and are available to talk anytime on 021-4634154
Revenue announce measures to assist SMEs experiencing cashflow difficulties arising from COVID-19
Update from Revenue 13th March 2020
Today (13/03/2020), having regard to the measures announced yesterday by An Taoiseach to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19, Revenue outlined some key advice and actions taken to assist small and medium enterprise (SME)* businesses experiencing cashflow and trading difficulties arising from the impacts of the virus.
Revenue issued key advice earlier this week to businesses experiencing tax payment difficulties, and appreciates that such difficulties can cause worries for businesses in terms of their ability to keep an otherwise good tax compliance record on track. It is important that businesses know that Revenue has a long history of working very successfully with taxpayers to resolve their tax payments difficulties.
Revenue has provided the following updated advice which will further assist businesses that are experiencing trading difficulties caused by the impacts of COVID-19.
Information 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.
Information 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. 0%, 20% or 35%. 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.
Information on importing goods
- Customs: critical pharmaceutical products and medicines will be given a Customs ‘green routing’ to facilitate uninterrupted importation and supply.
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.
Revenue will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation regarding COVID-19 and will issue further updated guidance for businesses when required and particularly in good time before the March/April VAT returns, and other future returns are due.
Revenue Defer Tax Collection From Retailers
Update from Retail Excellence Ireland 13th March 2020
VAT & PAYE | PRSI:
The Revenue will now defer all tax collections for the Retail Industry. No penalties or interest will apply. Please phone your local tax office. Revenue will take note of the call and details of the amount due and add a note to the account associated with your tax number. They will advise to file the return but not to make a payment. You can advise that the company’s cashflow has suddenly come under significant pressure and you will not be in a position to pay the upcoming tax liabilities. They will understand your situation. They are fully briefed as to what is going on.
It is important that we all work with our suppliers at this time. We are aware of many supportive suppliers who are significantly extending credit terms (120-180 days in some cases with the probability of further extensions), changing buying agreements to sale and return and many are offering significant contributions to mark-downs in preparation for the return of normality. They are offering the latter support as they know when retail starts to operate normally (and it will) you will need to inject some great offers into the market to get the customer actively buying again.
If we do not see a significant reduction and deferment of commercial rents from Wednesday of next week Retail Excellence Ireland will log all inflexible landlords and submit a report to the Cabinet on the matter. Emergency legislation will be considered at that stage.
No formal advise has been received on rates but I personally know most County & City CEOs and I am very sure they are totally understanding of what is happening and will hold off on collections for a number of months.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Employers and Employees
Update from Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection 12th March 2020.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are introducing measures to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
3 major changes have been announced:
- the current 6-day waiting period for Illness Benefit will not apply to anyone who has COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or is in medically-required self-isolation
- the personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 per week to €305 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks medically-required self-isolation or for the full duration of absence from work following a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
- the normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be changed .
You can access public health advice about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at the government’s information page.
Government has now urged all employers to support national public health objectives by continuing, as a minimum, to pay employees who cannot attend work due to Covid-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the enhanced Illness Benefit rate and their normal wages.
This may be achieved through the employer considering a range of flexible working arrangements with their employees such as:
- compassionate leave
- allowing the employee to work remotely
- allowing the staff member to ‘work-up’ any time taken at a future date
- allowing the employee to avail of annual leave entitlements
- rearranging parental leave
A number of income supports are available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for people whose employers do not continue to pay them during a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) related absence or temporary lay-off from work.
In considering how to respond to questions arising as a consequence of Covid-19 employers and employees are directed in the first instance to the public health advice issued by the HSE, available on their website www.HSE.ie . It is essential that all individuals and employers abide by this advice.
Government Support for Businesses Impacted By Covid-19
Minister Humphreys announces supports for businesses impacted by COVID-19
Tuesday, 10 March 2020 The Minister of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), Heather Humphreys TD, today announced details on the package of supports she has put in place for businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Minister Humphreys said, “I know that this is a worrying time for businesses and I want to assure them that my Department and agencies are working on their behalf to develop and deliver a range of supports to help them through this rapidly evolving situation.
The Minister continued, “I am hearing from many businesses that they are very concerned about their cashflow in the coming weeks. I want to reassure them that there are a number of schemes that can help them meet their short-term working capital and liquidity needs.”
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have put a range of supports in place, including:
- 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 https://sbci.gov.ie/
- 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.
- 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 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website https://microfinanceireland.ie/ or through your local LEO.
- 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 7 years.
Minister Humphreys also highlighted the following supports for firms experiencing trading difficulties and short-term shocks:
- The Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise & 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.
- Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office, see https://www.gov.ie/en/service/c20e1b-short-time-work-support/
- The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
The Minister added, “We are facing an unprecedented level of uncertainty, and businesses may want to access advice on how best to protect their businesses. 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.
In addition, 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. I encourage businesses to take advantage of these supports.”
The Minister also welcomed the package of reforms for sick pay, illness benefit and supplementary benefit that is designed to ensure that employees and the self-employed can abide by medical advice to self-isolate where appropriate.
Minister Humphreys concluded, “This situation is changing from day to day, and I will continue to work across Government, with the representative bodies and with the banking system to respond to ongoing developments in order to protect and support Irish businesses”