The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) provides financial incentives to private sector employers to employ people with a disability who work 21 hours per week or more, up to a maximum of 39 hours per week.
An employee with a disability on the Wage Subsidy Scheme is subject to the same conditions of employment as other employees. These conditions include PRSI contributions being paid and tax deductions being made in respect of the employment, as well as the employee having the same annual leave and other leave entitlements as other employees of that employer. The employer must pay the employee with a disability the going rate for the job, which must be at least the statutory minimum wage. These terms and conditions of employment should be set out in the employee’s contract.
The financial supports for employers available through this scheme are structured under three separate strands and employers could benefit under one strand or under two or three strands simultaneously, as the case may be.
Strand I subsidy is a general subsidy for any perceived productivity shortfall in excess of 20% for a person with a disability, in comparison to a colleague without a disability. An employee must work for a minimum of 21 hours per week up to a maximum of 39 hours per week. The rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour and the amount of the subsidy is based on the number of hours worked. The maximum annual subsidy payable is €10,748 per year based on a 39 hour week.
Strand II subsidy is payable when an employer employs three or more people with a disability who are supported by a WSS Strand I payment. Strand II is intended to cover the additional supervisory, management and other work based costs relating to these employees. This top-up payment is a percentage of the Strand I subsidy and is based on the overall number of employees with a disability employed under Strand I. It ranges from an additional 10% of wage subsidy for 3 to 6 employees with a disability to a maximum of 50% of wage subsidy for 23+ employees with a disability.
Strand III subsidy enables employers who employ 30 or more workers with a disability on the Wage Subsidy Scheme to be eligible for a grant of up to €30,000 per year towards the expense of employing an Employment Assistance Officer to support these employees.
In order to apply for a WSS Strand I subsidy, an employer should complete the following forms and forward them, along with all of the supporting documentation, to their local DSP Intreo Centre or to a DSP Case Officer, for consideration:
- Download a Wage Subsidy Scheme Employer Application Form ;
- Download a Wage Subsidy Scheme Employee Application Form;
- The employer and employee agree that the employee has/will have a loss of productivity of 20% or more – download a Productivity Level Report form;
- The Department, the employer and employee agree the wage subsidy to be paid following the first month of employment - download the DSP EFT Bank Mandate;
- The employer should have Tax Clearance – the employer should provide a Tax Clearance Access Number (TCAN) and a printout of the Tax Clearance Application Result for electronic tax clearance in proof of this. This is essential, as WSS cannot be paid without tax clearance.
- The employer should also provide a signed Contract of Employment detailing the terms and conditions of employment, including gross wage, job description (and person specification if available), and annual leave, sick leave and maternity/paternity leave entitlements. The Contract of Employment should be for a minimum of 6 months.
If a WSS application is approved, the Department will write to the employer and employee to confirm the terms of approval.
More detailed information about applying for WSS and about the terms and conditions relating to WSS can be found in the WSS Guidelines
Contact details for the Wage Subsidy Scheme can be accessed here