The Government has announced a new income support package for workers who are hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
A special unemployment payment for those who have been laid off due to the pandemic since last week is increasing by €147.
The Government is also going to start subsidising wages to keep people in jobs.
It will rise from €203 a week to €350 a week. It is currently worth the same amount as the dole. But it will stay at the regular rate for those who are unemployed for reasons other than the virus.
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, said 118,000 have applied.
It aims to keep workers in jobs by subsidising their wages. The Government is going to pay 70pc of salaries on incomes up to €38,000 a year, or €410 a week (tax free). The subsidy will be capped at €350 on income between €38,000 and €76,000.
The Government has said that employers are expected “to make best efforts” to pay as close to full wages as possible.
Employers will have to show the revenue commissioners that they they have suffered a reduction in income of at least 25pc and provide evidence of cash-flow difficulties.
The Government said there will be “severe penalties” for any abuse of the scheme.
It will run for 12 weeks.
More than 140,000 workers have already been laid off and thousands more may be set to join them after the Government announced the closure of non-essential businesses.
The aim of the scheme is to guarantee workers’ income during the crisis, keep their employers afloat and ultimately avoid another recession.
It also aims to keep employees connected to their employers by remaining on the payroll.
The logic is that this will make it easier for businesses to restart when the crisis ends.
Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, said the Government “will ensure that the economic impact on those who have lost their jobs, or had their hours or income reduced, is minimised to the greatest extent possible”.
He added: “The measures being introduced aim to provide income support to those who need it, while also giving confidence to employers to retain the link with employees so that when this crisis passes – and it will pass – our people can get back to work as quickly and seamlessly as possible.”
Taxpayers. The money will be borrowed.
Government ministers have said that the increased payment and the new scheme will be in place by the end of the week.
They can claim the increased pandemic unemployment payment of €350 a week.
Will the special illness benefit for those who have the virus or are self-isolated change?
Yes. The coronavirus illness benefit payment is rising to €350 a week as well.
It may be better in terms of the increased welfare payment, but the UK government agreed to fund up to 80pc of wages.