Ireland to extend COVID-19 wage subsidy program into 2022

Varadkar said that the government didn’t want to phase the EWSS out “too quickly”. [EPA-EFE/ POOL]

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, provides employers whose turnover has been significantly hit by the crisis with a weekly subsidy to allow them to continue to pay their staff.

The decision comes as Ireland proceeds with lifting its remaining pandemic restrictions. At the end of August, the cabinet agreed a plan to lift almost all measures, contingent on a 90% adult vaccination rate.

Last week saw the return of organised events and mass gatherings; by 22 October, the only measures set to remain in place are self-isolation with Covid symptoms and the wearing of masks in selected settings.

The phase-out of other pandemic welfare support schemes has already begun or is set to in the next few months.

Speaking to RTÉ radio, Varadkar said the government didn’t want to phase the EWSS out “too quickly”. The length of the extension has yet to be decided and will be announced with the release of the government’s budget, later in the autumn.

Pointing to the fast-approaching close of the UK’s furlough scheme, which is set to finish at the end of September, he said. “We think that’s a mistake. We wanted to continue into next year, but we’re going to have to work out what we can afford and how we can work that into the budget.”

(Molly Killeen |

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