As HR and payroll teams in the Republic of Ireland prepare for the new tax year, Personnel Today looks at some other changes on the horizon in 2021.
1. Minimum wage increase
From 1 January 2021 the national minimum wage will increase from €10.10 per hour to €10.20 per hour.
Exceptions from paying the national minimum wage include certain employment of people under the age of 18 or people employed in roles covered by Employment Regulation Orders – which have their own minimum rates of pay – and registered employment agreements.
This will also affect the minimum salary requirements for several work permission categories, including: Atypical Working Scheme permissions, Internship Employment Permits, Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Permits and Contract for Services Permits.
The Intra-Company Transfer Permit and Contract for Services Permit allow employers to count certain allowances, such as housing or health insurance, toward meeting the minimum salary threshold required for the visa category.
2. Statutory sick pay (SSP) legislation
In November, the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Employment launched a consultation into the introduction of a statutory right to paid sick leave for all employees, in order to bring its legislation into line with other OECD countries.
There is currently no legal obligation on employers in the Republic of Ireland to pay workers during periods of illness, however many do so voluntarily. Where sick pay is not provided by an employer, the government pays Illness Benefit in certain circumstances.
The consultation document asks employers and employees about their views on what an appropriate minimum payment would be – whether fixed, a percentage of weekly earnings, a rate based on the current Illness Benefit rates, or tapered in line with income bands.
It also asks about the duration of absence covered by SSP; whether there should be a minimum period that the employee is absent before SSP applies (Illness Benefit is currently paid after six days); whether the employee needs to have a minimum length of service at an organisation; whether an earnings threshold should apply and whether a certification of illness should be issued by a medical professional before SSP can be claimed.
The consultation closes on Friday 18 December 2020.
3. Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme
Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which provides financial support to firms in sectors that have been affected by the pandemic, will run until 31 March 2021, after which point many employers could be forced to consider redundancies to cut costs.
Employers whose turnover has fallen 30% are eligible for a flat rate weekly subsidy based on the number of qualifying employees on their payroll.
There are five payment bands and associated rates based on employees’ earnings. The rates are revised regularly and the current rates are effective until 31 January 2021.
4. Gender pay gap reporting
A Bill introduced last year seeks to emend the Employment Equality Act 1998 to require certain employers to publish gender pay data for their employers – similar to the way that employers over a certain size in the UK must publish their gender pay gap. They would also be required to set out an action plan for change if the proposal becomes law.
So far and there has been no indication if or when it will become law. However, payroll teams should consider how they might assist their HR colleagues in compiling this data.