Ireland to amend coronavirus wage subsidy scheme, says Donohoe

FILE PHOTO: Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe walks outside Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will amend its Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme in order to pay a higher percentage of low income workers and to encourage a greater take-up by employers, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Wednesday.

Around 250,000 employees have been retained on the payrolls of around 43,000 companies during the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak, with the Irish state paying 70% of wages up to a maximum of 410 euros ($445.92) per week.

“For incomes that are less than 24,400 euro per year, we will increase the subsidy that the state makes available to employers from 70% to 85%, and will also bring in flexibility regarding how that subsidy is paid,” Donohoe told national broadcaster RTE.

“In order to manage the economic shock, in order to get people back to work, to keep people in work...the government is looking to maintain income, to keep a link between an employer and an employee.”

The minister said it was his view that without the scheme there would be more than one million people - around a third of the workforce - on the live register or in receipt of other forms of income support.

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Mike Harrison