Fianna Fáil TD for Westmeath and Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Robert Troy has called on the Government to act immediately to allow employers top up the €203 COVID-19 payment paid by the Department of Social Protection to any staff who have been laid off.
Deputy Troy met with the Secretary General from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation this morning and impressed upon her the need for the Department to address the anomaly as quickly as possible. She agreed to bring it before the cross-departmental committee established in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
He explained, “At the beginning of this crisis the Minister for Finance appealed to employers to continue to pay workers full wages if they had to stay at home from work due to the coronavirus. He insisted that the Government would support them in doing so.
“Yet now we learn that any employer who is in a position to top up the €203 COVID-19 payment paid to their staff who have been temporarily laid off can’t do so.
“It makes sense on a number of fronts for employers to be able to top up the payment. It doesn’t draw on the exchequer, it eases the burden somewhat on their employees, will lead to more money circulating in the local economy, and it also means there will be PRSI and tax due on the top up amount.
“When these businesses do reopen, they will need to rely on the availability of their skilled staff. Many of them want to repay the loyalty of their staff by topping up the €203 COVID-19 payment by €50 or €100, whatever they may be in a position to give, and they can’t.
“It’s totally counterproductive to penalise good employers who are trying to help their good employees. If there is some technical reason why the Government will not allow employers top up the payment, they need to be upfront and tell us. They also need to commit to addressing it as a matter of urgency,” he concluded.