Pearse Doherty TD is calling on the Minister for Finance to change the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to enable workers in seasonal employment to get full pay this summer.
The current scheme is based on employees’ January and February payroll. Employers can make additional payments, but if those exceed employees’ net January/February pay by a certain amount, the wage subsidy is removed by the same figure.
This could result in seasonal workers moving to full-time hours this summer being deemed ineligible for the scheme.
Deputy Doherty, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance, said seasonal sectors that are reopening for business this summer may suffer due to the current measures: “Under the operation of the scheme, the subsidy is based on January and February 2020 payroll submissions.
“While the employer can make additional payments to an employee above the subsidy, if they make additional payments above the employee’s net pay in January/February 2020, the wage subsidy is reduced by that amount.
“This could have huge ramifications for employers and workers in seasonal sectors this summer.
“For a seasonal worker who typically works part-time during off-peak times such as January, but full-time in the summer months, their employer will not be able to pay them for full-time hours using the Wage Subsidy Scheme.
“Faced with this, employers could keep these seasonal workers on part-time hours this summer.
“This will not only hurt businesses in seasonal sectors, but will cut the incomes of workers and families who work in seasonal sectors,” Deputy Doherty said.
Deputy Doherty said he has written to the Minister for Finance seeking clarity on this issue. He has proposed that for such seasonal workers, payroll submissions in the 2019 summer months can be used as a basis to calculate the wage subsidy under the scheme.