Weekend newspaper reports suggested that the Government was considering a generous wage-subsidy scheme – similar to that introduced in Denmark – to assist workers at risk of lay-offs on foot of the coronavirus.
The Sunday Times reported that that State was “set to pay 75% of wages for virus-hit jobs.”
The Danish scheme reimburses companies 75% of the wages of staff who would otherwise be laid off, up to a cap of around €3,000 a month. It applies to private firms that face more than 50 job losses or redundancies of up to 30% of the workforce.
Last week, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) called on the Government to vastly improve income supports for tens of thousands of workers threatened with laid-offs because of the coronavirus crisis.
Although measures have been put in place to speed-up welfare payments, those who lose their jobs face a huge drop in income as Jobseekers’ benefit is set at just €203 a week.
ICTU cited the Danish scheme while demanding much more ambitious measures from the Government to preserve workers’ jobs and incomes. In a letter to Leo Varadkar, its general secretary Patricia King said this level of shock unemployment would match the total number of jobs lost in over two years following the 2008 financial crash.
The union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute has also called for massively increased income supports.
Around 90,000 applications have been received for the government's Covid-19 pandemic unemployment support payment so far. At least tens of thousands more are expected.
Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty recently acknowledged that the €203 emergency payment is not enough. She said new measures will be announced in the coming days to help those who have lost their jobs as a result of the virus.