Donohoe tweaks wage subsidy scheme so mothers returning from maternity qualify

Revenue to implement it and will be backdated to March 26th

Mothers returning to work from maternity leave are now eligible for scheme in which the wages of certain workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic are subsidised by the State.

Mothers returning to work from maternity leave are now eligible for scheme in which the wages of certain workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic are subsidised by the State.

 

Mothers returning to work from maternity leave are now eligible for a scheme in which the wages of certain workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic are subsidised by the State.

Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Finance, has announced that he has tweaked the temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS), which covers up to 85 per cent of an employee’s wages up to €410 per week, to fix an anomaly that emerged that excluded returning mothers and people on adoptive leave.

The change will be legislated for later in the year “as part of the usual Finance Bill 2020 process”. In the meantime, he said, Revenue has agreed to implement it and it will be backdated to March 26th.

The anomaly arose because the scheme, brought in to encourage employers to keep staff on their books who might otherwise have been laid off, required qualifying workers to have been on the payroll of their employer on February 29th, or to have been been paid in either January or February.

Mothers on maternity leave who subsequently returned to the workforce did not qualify under the old criteria. This lead to heavy criticism of the Government from women’s advocacy groups and opposition politicians, who said mothers or parents who adopted were being discriminated against.

“The Cabinet today agreed an important change to the scheme to ensure that workers are not denied access to us because of the personal circumstances, relating to maternity leave,” Mr Donohoe said.

“The government is making this important change, because we want to ensure that citizens are not denied access to the scheme, because of their personal circumstances,” he said.

“I am satisfied that this change addresses the anomaly and ensures appropriate operation of the TWSS in recognition of the unique circumstances applying to those returning to work after a period of maternity or adoptive leave.”

The latest figures from Revenue, two weeks ago, showed that €936 million had already been paid out by the State under the scheme.

Mr Donohoe said that he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had spoken about the scheme and the likelihood of extending it. He said it would be a “hollow” victory if the Government ended the scheme and those who had relied on it lost their jobs because their employers could no longer stay in business. He indicated his department would begin an in-depth look at the scheme on a sector-by-sector basis to ensure that those employers and employees who will continue to rely on the scheme in order to survive will continue to receive it.

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