Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme

31 March 2020: Clarified that only submissions made on or after the 26th March 2020, with a Pay Date on or after the 26th March 2020 will qualify for this scheme.

27 March 2020: Included a note that the subsidy amount is reckonable income that may be taxed at a later stage by Revenue.

On Tuesday, 24 March the Government announced a new Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme which is aimed at providing financial support to employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This new scheme comes into effect for any submissions made from, and with a Pay Date from, the 26 March 2020. This new scheme builds on the previous Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme, mentioned in our recent blogs:

Employers, who have applied on ROS to operate under the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme,  will be able to make a non-taxable subsidy payment to employees along with a taxable top-up contribution through payroll. The subsidy payment will be refunded by Revenue to the employer after the submission is made to Revenue.

The Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme will be available for employers who keep employees on their payroll throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is not limited to employees who are temporarily laid-off as per the previous scheme.

How to Add the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme item on SimplePay

We have revised the scheme item we previously blogged about and have introduced a new Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme item. This item can be added as follows:

  • Go to Employees
  • Select an employee
  • Select Add next to Payslip Inputs
  • Select the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme item
  • Enter the Subsidy amount
  • Enter the Top-up amount

In an effort to allow employers to continue to pay their employees the amount they would normally be paid, Revenue have allowed for a maximum amount of 70% of the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay to be subsidised by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) and a maximum amount of 30% of the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay to be topped up by employers. More information on this is provided below.

Subsidy Amount

The Subsidy amount entered should be equal to 70% of the employee’s net weekly pay, with:

  • A maximum of €410 per week where the Average Net Weekly Pay is less than or equal to €586; or
  • A maximum of €350 per week where the Average Net Weekly Pay is greater than €586 and less than or equal to €960

The Subsidy amount will not be subject to Income Tax, USC or PRSI.

Please note: the Subsidy amount is reckonable income, which may be taxed at a later stage by Revenue. Revenue will be providing information on this on their website.

Top-Up Amount

If an employer wants to make a taxable payment to their employee, they can capture an amount less than or equal to 30% of the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay in the Top-up amount field. This amount will be included in Gross Pay and will be subject to Income Tax, USC and PRSI as calculated by the RPN. However, there will be no employee PRSI applied and the employer PRSI will be reduced to 0.5% of the top-up payment. 

Note that if the employer captures more than 30% in the Top-up amount field (i.e. the employee receives more than their Average Net Weekly Pay), Revenue may reduce the Subsidy amount refunded to the employer. 

Calculating the Average Net Weekly Pay

For now, employers are required to calculate the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay when capturing these amounts. To calculate the Average Net Weekly Pay, employers must use the values in the payroll submission for each pay date in Jan and Feb 2020:

  1. Take the employee’s “Gross pay” and from it subtract the “Income Tax Paid”, the “USC Paid” and the “Employee PRSI Paid“.
  2. Total this figure for each pay date in Jan and Feb 2020 and divide this by the number of insurable weeks (capped at 9) for the period.
  3. This gives you the employee’s average pay that is to be used for the Subsidy amount field.

Revenue has published guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions, which provide a worked example for the calculation of the employee’s Average Net Weekly Pay. This can be found here.

PRSI Class J9

Finalised payslips with the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme item added will generate a submission, with the J9 PRSI class included. This PRSI class lets Revenue know that the employee has been paid under the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. You will not need to make any changes to the employee’s PRSI class or PRSI exemption status, this is done automatically when the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme item is added.

Gross Pay of €0.01

Revenue have stated that a pay amount of €0.01 should be included in Gross Pay if no Top-up amount is captured. The reason for this is that some payroll systems require a sum submitted under salary in order to function. Luckily for you, with SimplePay no amount is needed under Basic Salary for you to run your payroll, meaning the payslips’ basic salary will read zero. Revenue has communicated directly with us that the €0.01 is not required and employers will still receive a refund when submitting €0.00.

How to Apply to the Scheme:

Employers, and their agents, will need to apply to Revenue to operate the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. To do this, please follow the steps outlined by Revenue in the “Registering for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme” section. Employers, already registered with Revenue for the purposes of the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme, are not required to take any further action.

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.

More information on the scheme can be found on Revenue’s website here.

As always, we’re here to help where we can. Please feel free to get in touch if you need help with any of the above on SimplePay.

Team SimplePay

Update: Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme

Yesterday you may have read our blog about the new Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme, a special support payment of €203 per week, which allows employers to pay their employees who are temporarily laid off. This amount can be paid by the employer through payroll, being refunded the day after the submission is made. You can read more about this on our blog post here.

We have been hard at work making changes to our system in order to cater for these payments to employees and the submissions to Revenue. A new COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme item can be added as follows:

  • Go to Employees
  • Select an employee
  • Select Add next to Payslip Inputs
  • Select the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme item
  • Enter the corresponding amount based on the employee’s pay frequency

Employees who have been temporarily laid off can be paid €203 per week under this scheme. Therefore employers must input the correct amount based on the employee’s pay frequency:

  • Weekly – €203
  • Every 2 weeks – €406
  • Monthly – €812 (for 4 weeks in a month) or €1015 (for 5 weeks in a month)

This amount is not subject to tax, USC or PRSI. 

If you have multiple employees per week and want to save some time, you can use our Bulk Input functionality. Visit our Help Site here for more information.

Employees under this scheme must not receive any other wage payments from their employer, including wage top ups, overtime, shift allowance and on-call payments. As such, you will need to set the Basic Salary to 0 and remove any other Payslip Items and Regular Items on the payslip before finalising. 

Finalised payslips with the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme item added will generate a submission, with the J9 PRSI class included. This PRSI class lets Revenue know that the employee has been paid under the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme. You will not need to make any changes to the employee’s PRSI class or PRSI exemption status, this is done automatically when the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme item is added.

One possible situation that could lead to complications is where employees are paid monthly or fortnightly, but have been laid-off part way through their pay period. In this scenario, employers should not finalise the payslip, but should first switch their employees to a weekly pay frequency, allowing for the worked weeks to be separated from payments under the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme. The worked weeks should have the monthly pay pro-rated accordingly. This is in line with Revenue’s recommendations in their guide for the Operation of the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme, which can be viewed here

Note: In the aforementioned guide, a pay amount of €0.01 is required in order for payroll to run. The reason for this is that some payroll systems require a sum submitted under salary in order to function. Luckily for you, with SimplePay no amount is needed under Basic Salary for you to run your payroll, meaning the payslips’ basic salary will read zero. Revenue has communicated directly with us that the €0.01 is not required and employers will still receive a refund when submitting €0.00. 

Revenue has advised that if an employee has already been terminated due to temporary lay-offs, the special payment will need to be claimed directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) and not through payroll. Even if you reinstate your employee through payroll, Revenue will not be refunding employers if they have previously made a payroll submission with the employee’s cessation date.

Please refer to the Revenue guide for the Operation of the COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme as it provides a more in depth overview of the scheme. To register for the scheme please follow the guidelines provided by Revenue here.

Team SimplePay

Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme

On 15 March 2020, Regina Doherty, the current Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) announced that workers who are temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will be able to claim a special support payment of €203 per week. 

Revenue and DEASP unveiled an optional “Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme”, which allows for employers to make payments to the value of €203 per week to their employees directly, through the normal payroll process. 

The amounts paid to employees under the scheme are not subject to tax, USC or PRSI. Revenue will also reimburse these payments to the employer’s bank account the day after the submission is made (starting Tuesday 24 March).

We are currently working on changes to our system to allow for these payments to be correctly catered for in the submissions to ROS. We will keep you updated and let you know when these changes are Live! In the meantime, employers, and their agents, will need to apply to Revenue to operate this new Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme. To do this, please follow the steps outlined by Revenue in the “Making an application for the Refund Scheme” section.

Some key requirements to be able to partake in the scheme include:

  • Employees must have been temporarily laid off. Employees who have merely had their hours reduced due to COVID-19 will not be eligible for this scheme.
  • Laid off employees must possess a PPSN.
  • Employees must have been included on a payroll submission, made by the employer between 1 February 2020 and 15 March 2020.
  • Employees must be receiving no other wage payment from their employer, including wage top ups, overtime, shift allowance and on-call payments.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Should employers wish to partake in this scheme, employees should not be terminated on SimplePay and should remain as active employees for the duration of the scheme. 

More information has been provided by the DEASP and Revenue

Thank you for your patience whilst we implement these changes.

Team SimplePay

National Minimum Wage and PRSI AX Changes

The national minimum wage in Ireland will increase from €9.80 to €10.10 per hour from 1 February 2020 for people aged 20 years and older. This will have an impact on both PRSI and USC.

PRSI will be impacted as follows:

  1. There will be no changes to the employee rates for PRSI.
  2. There will be no change to the employee PRSI credit.
  3. The PRSI employer threshold for class AX will change from €386 to €395 (weekly).

The PRSI contribution rates will therefore be as follows for private and some public sector employments:

As always, SimplePay takes the hassle out of compliance for our users. We have already made updates to the system to ensure that the PRSI calculation is correct, depending on the date of your payslip. This means that if you prepare payslips that are dated before 1 February 2020, the system will use the previous thresholds, while payslips dated from 1 February 2020 will use the updated thresholds. There is therefore no need for you to make any changes or updates on your end – you simply continue capturing payroll as usual.

The USC threshold for the 2% bracket will also change so that full-time minimum wage workers stay in the same USC bracket. This change will be reflected through changes in employee RPNs and will take effect on 1 March 2020.

For more information on PRSI and USC, check out our help pages here.

Team SimplePay

Automatic Logout Feature

We are happy to announce a new security feature as part of our ongoing commitment to protecting your data and helping you stay safe online. We already have the highest of security standards in place, and last year we introduced an optional 2-factor authentication feature to prevent access to your account if someone has your password. Now, our optional timeout feature allows you to choose how long the system can be left idle for before automatically logging you out of SimplePay.

With this new feature, if you forget to log out of SimplePay, the next person that uses that computer or electronic device will not have access to your account. This is especially beneficial to you if you share computers in the workplace, if you work on public computers or if you are concerned that someone will use your electronic device when you leave it unattended.

To access this feature:

  • Go to the Profile icon and select User Profile
  • Click on Lock screen after timeout
  • Select a timeout option.
    • If you select ‘Disabled’, you will not be logged out of the system, no matter how long a page has been left idle for.
    • If you select a time from the menu (e.g. ‘1 hour’), it means that the system will log you out if there has been inactivity for the time specified.
  • Click Save

Just another way that SimplePay is helping you take care of your sensitive employee data.

Team SimplePay

QuickBooks Integration Upgrade

As the year draws to a close, our holiday elves have been bustling behind the scenes to enhance your payroll experience, focusing on our QuickBooks integration. SimplePay integrates with both QuickBooks and Xero, allowing you to send your payroll information straight from SimplePay into your general ledger accounts with the click of a button. This means that you do not have to switch between systems to transfer information, saving you time and reducing the possibility of human error.

You’ll be happy to hear that our QuickBooks integration has been refined to give you an upgraded user interface and setup. These improvements will make the process easier to navigate and simpler to understand if you wish to integrate your payroll and accounting information.

If you have already integrated QuickBooks and SimplePay in the past, please note that you may be required to re-authenticate your account due to the work done behind the scenes.

For more information on integrating SimplePay with QuickBooks, head on over to our help page.

Team SimplePay 

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 (Bill 30 of 2019) is currently going through the legislative process and it is important for Irish employers to begin preparations at an early stage. Gender pay gap reporting is likely to become mandatory for employers who have an employee volume above a certain number. 

To assist with this potential reporting obligation, SimplePay has added a Gender field to the Basic Info screen for employees. You can indicate the gender of each employee individually or in bulk as follows:

Individually:

  • Go to Employees
  • Select an employee 
  • Go to Edit Info > Basic Info
  • Select ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ from the Gender dropdown list
  • Click Save

In bulk:

  • Go to Employees > Bulk Actions > Essentials
  • Select ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ from the Gender dropdown list next to each employee
  • Click Save

You will now also be able to indicate the gender of each employee when you add employees individually or in bulk. This is covered in more detail on our help site here.

Reporting will include mean and median pay gaps in hourly pay and bonuses, gender discrepancies for employees that receive bonuses and benefits in kind, and action plans to resolve these differences.

You can obtain the numerical data from the Transaction History Report by going to Reports > Transaction History Report. You can then use Excel’s sort functionality and mean and median formulas to calculate the needed information. More information about reports from SimplePay can be found here.

If you require any assistance, please contact our support team.

Team SimplePay

We’re App Partner of the Year Finalists

SimplePay is delighted and proud to announce that we have been chosen as a finalist for the App Partner of the Year: South Africa for the Xero Awards taking place in March 2020. Xero is the leading cloud-based accounting software in the market and we are honoured to be recognised for our integration and synergy.

As SimplePay uses the same approach to Xero integration in all our regions, you can be assured that you are receiving the same quality features no matter what region you are in. We aspire to be finalists in all regions when these awards are announced in the future. 

A huge thank you to our wonderful team. Your dedication and commitment to making SimplePay the best cloud-based payroll system for our customers has made this possible. And of course, an even bigger thank you to our customers. Without your support, loyalty and feedback, we wouldn’t be what we are. We look forward to continuing to serve your payroll needs.

To find out more about SimplePay’s integration with Xero, head over to our help page here.

Team SimplePay

New Feature: Employee Leave Expiration

Introducing the latest system expansion from the SimplePay team: employee leave expiration for leave days carried over.

With our aim to give you the ultimate payroll experience, you can now customise your leave settings even further by specifying how long leave carried over from a previous
leave cycle remains valid for. For example, you might have a policy that any unused leave from 2019 may carry over to 2020, but if it is not used by the end of June 2020, it will expire and be forfeited.

This is usually done to ensure that your employees’ leave does not excessively accumulate. In addition, by prompting employees to take their leave in due course, it leads to increased employee well-being which has long-term benefits for both employees and the company. Before implementing this on the system, ensure that it aligns with your company’s leave policy and your employees’ contracts to avoid any labour disputes.

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To make use of this new feature on current policies, follow these easy steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Leave.
  2. Click on View next to the leave type that you wish to edit.
  3. Under Available Entitlement Policies, click on View next to the entitlement policy that you wish to edit.
  4. If the Allow leave to be carried forward to next cycle? checkbox is set, there will now be an additional line that appears under it.
  5. In the new field , enter the number of months that leave must be held for before expiring.
  6. Click Save.

If you are creating a new leave policy, you will be able to follow the same process when creating the entitlement policy.

For more information on creating and editing leave entitlement policies, head over to our help page here.

Team SimplePay

Introducing Dual Employment

We love giving you a great payroll experience and, once again, the SimplePay team has been hard at work to respond to your payroll needs. We are delighted to introduce you to dual employment on our system.

Dual employment occurs when:

  • you have an employee on your payroll with two active employments AND
  • you want to keep the two sets of pay separate on your payroll records.

In practice, this usually means that the employee is assigned two different employee numbers and/or IDs.

SimplePay has provided better support for dual employment as follows:

  • To enable dual employment, there is a check box under Other Statutory Info on an employee’s Basic Info screen that says Allow Multiple Employment. Tick this checkbox to allow you to capture two employees with the same PPSN.
  • When adding two employees with the same PPSN without setting the checkbox, you will encounter a validation error. This is to ensure that you do not accidentally capture an employee twice on the system when it is not dual employment, but simply a duplicate.
  • Allowing dual employment on the system will assign different Employment Identifiers to the employee, ensuring that submissions to Revenue are reported correctly. You can read more about Employment Identifiers here.

This extended functionality of the system is also outlined on our help page here.

If you have any queries, do not hesitate to reach out to our Support team.

Team SimplePay