There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.
Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)
A cash subsidy for employers that employ people with disabilities for at least 21 hours per week, to compensate for any shortfall in productivity or additional management costs.
There are three different strands to the subsidy – employers can benefit from individual strands or from all of them simultaneously.
Strand 1: A subsidy to an employer to make up the shortfall if a disabled employee has a productivity rate of 80% or less compared to other staff. The rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour (21-39 hours).
Strand 2: A top-up grant for companies that employ more than two people with disabilities to cover additional supervisory, management and other work-based costs. The payment is based on the number of disabled employees from 10% (3-6 disabled employees) up to a maximum of 50% (23+ disabled employees).
Strand 3: A grant of €30,000 per annum to companies that employ 30 or more disabled employees to enable them to employ an Employment Assistance Officer (EAO).
The aim of the scheme is to encourage the employment of people with disabilities.
It is illegal to discriminate against any employee on the basis of a disability, in accordance with employment equality legislation. Sometimes, however, the nature of a disability can restrict an employee’s productivity in comparison with other staff, irrespective of their ability to do a job. The WSS allows employers that employ staff with disabilities with proven productivity rates of 50-80% to make up for the reduced productivity.
To apply, the employer and employee must contact their local employment services/Intreo office and arrange a meeting. There are forms for both the employer and employee to complete.
After the first month of employment, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the employer and the employee agree the wage subsidy to be paid.
The employer pays the employee the going rate for the job. The employer receives the subsidy via regular (generally monthly) electronic fund transfer.
If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:
- Public service employers or any employers/schemes where wages are funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are not eligible for this scheme.
- The conditions of employment are the same as for all other staff in terms of PRSI contributions, annual leave, tax deductions, contracts of employment and minimum wage requirements.
- The employer must pay the employee the going rate for the job, as per any other employee.
- Generally, the employee must give up their primary social welfare payment when they start employment under the WSS. New applicants to the scheme who are in receipt of Disability Allowance (DA) may, however, apply for the DA rehabilitative work disregard provided they are working at least 21 hours per week.
- More information on the WSS is available here.