COVID-19 Client Response Team

Updated 27th March 2020

Our COVID-19 Client Response Team is continuing to closely monitor developments relating to COVID-19 as they emerge and is ready to provide you with quick and up to date advice on all your Banking, Working Capital, Cashflow, Tax, Employee and Insurance queries and concerns.

Latest updates are to the Wage Subsidy Scheme, Illness Benefit, Redundancy Payments Acts and to Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

We have outlined below details on the current supports available to businesses, useful Government guidelines and other areas of consideration.

Business Supports

On the 11th March 2020, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation put in place a range of supports to help businesses navigate these uncertain times.

  • A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website 
  • A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
  • The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website  or through your local LEO.
  • The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years. The scheme provides an 80% guarantee to participating banks which are AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.

Other Enterprise Ireland/Local Enterprise Office supports include:

  • Strategic consultancy grant for SME’s to assist the company development of a strategic response plan.
  • Act On Initiative, providing access to 2 days consultancy engagement at no extra cost to assess Financial Management, Strategic sourcing and transport and logistics advice.
  • Key Manager Support to provide partial funding towards the recruiting of a Full or Part Time Manager with critical skills for future growth.
  • Agile Innovation Fund and Operational Excellence Offer.
  • Be Prepared Grant for contingency planning.
  • Vouchers for business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity will be available through Local Enterprise Offices in every local authority area (localenterprise.ie).
  • Additional financial supports are available locally through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (localenterprise.ie).
Employer and Employee Supports 

The Government has announced a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme to provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis.

In summary:

  • A temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax.
  • Workers who have lost their jobs due to the crisis will receive an enhanced emergency COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week (an increase from €203).
  • The COVID-19 illness payment will also be increased to €350 per week.
  • Self-Employed will be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 directly from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (rather than the Revenue scheme).

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme

If you are an employer who can demonstrate that the negative disruption is leading to a minimum of 25% decline in actual or predicted turnover and an inability to pay normal wages and outgoings – you will be able to claim 70 percent of your employees net wage back (up to a maximum of €410) through the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Income tax, USC, LPT, if applicable, and PRSI are not deducted from the Temporary Wage Subsidy.  However, the subsidy will be liable to Income Tax and USC on review at the end of the year.

Employers have to sign up to the scheme through Revenue.

All employers who have applied to the older COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme will be automatically transferred onto the new, higher payment.

Employers should note that the names and addresses of all employers operating this scheme will be published on Revenue’s website in due course, after the scheme has expired. Penalties will apply to any abuse of the Wage Subsidy Scheme by self-declaring incorrectly, by not providing funds to employees or non-adherence to Revenue and any other relevant guidelines.

A guidance document and FAQs on the operation of the of the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme and a guidance on employer eligibility and supporting proofs has been published by Revenue.

If you are self-employed, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Income Supports

A number of income supports are available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for your employees during a COVID-19 related absence or temporary lay-off from work:

Amendments to the Redundancy Payments Acts

The recently published Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020, which is expected to be passed this week, contains amendments to the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 to extend the time-periods under which a person who has been laid off or kept on short-time due to COVID-19 can claim a redundancy payment from their employer.

In normal circumstances, an employee can serve notice on the employer of their intention to claim a redundancy payment if they have been placed on lay-off or short time for a period exceeding four consecutive weeks or six weeks in any thirteen-week period.

The Bill provides that, for the duration of a designated “emergency period”, employees on lay off or short time will not be in a position to claim a redundancy payment if the lay-off or short time is due to due to COVID-19.

The “emergency period” as currently defined begins on 13 March 2020 and ends on 31 May 2020.

Cashflow and Projections

Cashflow will inevitably be an issue for all businesses in the coming weeks. It is vital that you monitor cashflow, plan and are prepared for reductions in cash inflows. Make sure that you have a cash flow projection that can be tested for various scenarios.

If you make loan repayments on bank debt you may be able to get a moratorium on repayments.

The Revenue have stated that businesses experiencing cashflow issues should still submit their tax returns on time, but that applications of interest on late payments will be suspended for VAT and PAYE liabilities. All debt enforcement activity will be suspended and tax clearance status will remain in place for businesses over the coming months.

If you need our help with cash flow reviews and projections or with your Bank or Revenue, please let us know as soon as you are aware that you have a problem.

Loss of Income

Does your insurance include cover for business interruption? Check your insurance policy and speak with your insurance broker to determine if there are any potential impacts on your business for which cover is provided in your policy. There may be little cover on common policies but some businesses may have specific Business Interruption Cover. If you have cover this can be a valuable means of recuperating loss in income.

Even if you don’t have insurance cover it will be important that you quantify the effects of the coronavirus on your bottom line. This will help you later in discussions with finance providers, suppliers, tendering etc.

  • Examine all aspects of your operations to identify potential areas of impact.
  • Track time spent managing issues related to the crisis.
  • Keep detailed records of direct costs associated with any affected business process.
  • Segregate unusual or potentially claim-related costs from normal operating expenses.
  • Maintain customer correspondence regarding cancelled orders and sales.
  • Retain copies of your pre-crisis projections, forecasts, budgets, meeting notes, etc. that detail expected operations.
Business Continuity

Ensuring your business and employees are operational during these unprecedented times requires careful planning and having a response team who is ready to make quick and sometimes difficult decisions. We would encourage you to look at The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s user-friendly Business Continuity Planning Checklist. This can be downloaded here.

In line with our own Business Continuity Plan and taking guidance from the Checklist, on 11th March 2020 we initiated protocols to maintain continuity on service delivery to our clients while safeguarding the health and safety of our staff. The majority of our employees are now carrying out their work from home locations. If you need advice with your contingency planning, please contact us.

These are truly unprecedented times and Crowleys DFK are here to help you. We are at the other end of telephone (+353 1 679 0800/+353 21 427 2900) or on our dedicated email (crteam@crowleysdfk.ie) when you need us.

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, employees throughout the country have been asked to work from home. While these are challenging times for both employers and employees, Revenue offer a measure of relief for employers and employees who are engaged in “eWorking”. Revenue have today confirmed in their eBrief No. 045/20 that the current Government recommendations for employees to work from home as a result of COVID-10 meet the conditions for the “eWorking” tax relief.

Revenue define eWorking as where an employee works:

  • at home on a full or part-time basis
  • part of the time at home and the remainder in the normal place of work

eWorking involves:

  • logging onto a work computer remotely
  • sending and receiving email, data or files remotely
  • developing ideas, products and services remotely.

Employers can make a payment of €3.20 per workday to an employee who is working from home without deducting PAYE, PRSI or USC. This payment is to cover expenses such as heating, electricity and broadband costs. Amounts paid in excess of €3.20 are subject to tax as normal. Records of payments made must be retained by the employer for the purpose of any potential future Revenue compliance intervention.

In addition, where employers provide any of the following equipment to their employees, no benefit-in-kind arises as long as it is primarily for business use:

  • computer, laptop or computer equipment (eg. printers, scanners)
  • software to allow you to work from home
  • telephone, mobile and broadband
  • office furniture.

There is no obligation on employers to make this payment. If employers do not make this payment, employees can instead make a claim online at the end of the year by filing a tax return. Employees are not entitled the claim the round sum of €3.20. They are entitled to claim for vouched expenses that are incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of their duties of the employment. For most office workers this would be their home heating and electricity costs.

Any reimbursement of these expenses that has already been paid by the employer should be deducted from the claim amount. While receipts are not required to file the return, Revenue can request these for a period of up to six years after the year in which the claim relates, so employees should always keep a record of these.

In the case of utility bills, Revenue have advised that they are willing to accept that the average proportion of the house attributable to a home office is 10%. Therefore, for every day an employee works at home as a result of the current Government recommendations, they are able to make a claim for 10% of the utility bills for that day.

It is important to note that outside of the current Government recommendations regarding working from home, the eWorking relief does not apply to workers who bring work home outside of normal working hours, ie. evenings and weekends.

If any further information is required or if you have questions on the above, please don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated COVID-19 Client Response Team or our Tax Department.

12th March 2020

In light of recent developments reported on the spread of COVID-19, on 11th March 2020 our Management Board initiated the firm’s Business Continuity Protocols.

These protocols are a series of active measures aimed at maintaining continuity on service delivery to our clients while ensuring the health and safety of our staff are safeguarded. These protocols are being continuously updated with guidance from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Health Service Authority (HSE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

What measures are we taking?

  1. The firm will operate both Dublin and Cork offices with minimum staffing in order to reduce the number of people in the office.
  2. We have started rolling out our Remote Working from Home procedures. By 13th March 2020, the majority of our employees will be carrying out their work from home locations. Employees are completely contactable and available for business using their existing contact details (email, phone numbers etc). We expect to be able to continue to support our clients’ needs with a minimal level of disruption.
  3. All Partners and Heads of Departments have nominated deputies and senior members of their respective Departments.
  4. All non-essential business travel has been paused.
  5. We are transitioning to virtual meetings.

This is an unprecedented and evolving situation and we are closely monitoring events as they unfold.  We will keep you informed of any future changes should they arise.  This includes any Government guidelines which might have a potential impact on compliance deadlines and incentives announced.

While the health and safety of our staff members remain our top priority, please rest assured that we are implementing all feasible measures to continue to provide the same high level of service at this time.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on +353 1 6790 800 / +353 21 4272 900 or email james.oconnor@crowleysdfk.ie

In the meantime, please stay safe and look after yourselves and your families.

James O’Connor
Managing Partner

Members of the Crowleys DFK Corporate Social Responsibility team recently visited our Charity Partner, LauraLynn, to witness first-hand the amazing care this remarkable charity provide to children with life limiting conditions from all over Ireland and the supports provided to their families.

LauraLynn Hospice Visit

Pictured from left to right: Natalie Kelly, Kim McCarthy, Donna Gould and Paula McCann

Claire Shiels, from LauraLynn’s Corporate Fundraising Team took time out of her busy day to do some planning with the team for the year ahead and to show them around the hospice to share details of the holistic approach to care LauraLynn takes to meet the needs of each family throughout their journey – from their child’s diagnosis, throughout their child’s life, through end-of-life and in bereavement – for as long as a family needs support.

Speaking after the visit, Paula McCann said:

On entering LauraLynn House, there is an overwhelming sense of family. From the smiles on the faces of all the wonderful and dedicated staff to the resonating joy from some wonderful children and their families following a music therapy event in the day room, you could not but recognise what an important and precious place LauraLynn is.

Throughout our visit, we were able to see and understand the impact that our support will make in helping families create special memories that last a life-time – whether it goes toward a short stay break for a child and their whole family to stay in the hospice, home support, music and play therapy or family and sibling camps, every cent we raise and every minute volunteered will make a difference.”

The employees at Crowleys DFK have already kicked off their fundraising efforts, having recently raised close to €500 on a raffle to win an annual leave day. A team of ten volunteers from across the firm will also be giving LauraLynn a helping hand at the Annual Heroes Ball on 28 March, in addition to sponsoring a corporate table on the night.

A number of other fun fundraising initiatives are currently in the works for the year ahead to help LauraLynn with the €4.6m they need to raise in 2020 to keep their services running. Stay tuned for more updates!

LauraLynn Charity Partner 2020

Crowleys DFK is delighted to announce LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice as its Charity Partner of the Year for 2020.

LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice is the only children’s hospice in the Republic of Ireland. They provide specialised hospice care to children with life limiting conditions and their families from all across Ireland. They care for the whole family, allowing patients to be children and parents to be parents rather than full time carers.

Speaking about the announcement, Colette Nagle, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Crowleys DFK said,

“LauraLynn was chosen as the firm’s Charity Year Partner through an employee nomination process. This amazing charity is obviously close to the hearts of many of our team members and we are delighted to be able to support the great work that they do.”

In partnership with LauraLynn, a programme of support will be designed to meet the charity’s requirements. Details of the programme will be announced over the coming weeks.

Colette continued,

“As well as organising and taking part in fundraising events, we hope to get involved by giving our time and expertise where needed. Members of our CSR Team will be visiting the hospice in the coming weeks to witness first-hand the fantastic care and support provided by LauraLynn.”

LauraLynn offers a range of care and services including:

  • Short Breaks (for the child and family in the hospice to give the family a break);
  • Home Support (nursing care and therapeutic activities in the home);
  • Family Supports (activities & therapies to help the while family cope day-to-day, including Play therapy and Family Camps);
  • End-of-Life Care (offering families the choice to bring their child home or avail of the hospice during this time); and
  • Bereavement Support (ongoing support to help parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and the wider family cope with their loss).

Claire Shiels, Corporate Fundraiser at LauraLynn commented;

“We are delighted to be partnering with Crowleys DFK and working with them and their staff over the coming year to raise much needed funds for the children and families in our care, and spread awareness about LauraLynn and its services as Ireland’s only children’s hospice.”

We are delighted to announce that our fundraising efforts during 2019 amounted to €16,001.60 for our Charity Partner, Cork ARC Cancer Support House.

The original goal was to raise €15,000 to help make #Room4ARC, a project to transfer their operations to the newly-renovated Sarsfield House. However, due to the incredible support from our own employees, clients, family and friends, we managed to surpass this goal. All funds raised help Cork ARC to continue to reach out to the community to offer support and information to those affected by a cancer diagnosis in our community.

Throughout the year, employees jumped out of a plane, competed in a bake-off, ran marathons and participated in bidding wars!

Speaking about the funds raised by Crowleys DFK in aid of Cork ARC, Partner and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Colette Nagle commented,

“We are so grateful to everyone who generously contributed to our fundraising events throughout 2019, helping us raise over €16,000 for such a fantastic charity. We hope that these funds help Cork ARC to continue providing a range of professional supports to help people cope with the challenges that cancer can bring to their lives.”

CEO of Cork ARC, Hilary Sullivan said,

“Our charity partnership with Crowleys DFK in 2019 was an example of how high people can raise the bar when it comes to volunteering effort and putting others before themselves to support a charitable cause.

As the benefactors of the amazing work of so many people in Crowleys DFK, we in Cork ARC are privileged to have been on the journey with such a dedicated team and to see how much fun and camaraderie they enjoyed in their fundraising endeavours.  The funds raised will directly support our services, which are offered free of charge to any person affected by a cancer diagnosis, either personally or through a loved one.

The success of our partnership surpassed the dreams we had as we began last year and we are immensely grateful to such a wonderful group of staff, in Cork and Dublin, who threw themselves wholeheartedly into every event, including jumping out of a plane!

We wish each member of the Crowleys DFK team every success in their work and, from each of us, on behalf of the clients that we serve, we thank them sincerely for their support, the value of which is far beyond the measure of the staggering  €16,001.60 which they raised in the name of Cork ARC Cancer Support House.”

Managing Partner of Crowleys DFK, James O’Connor said,

“Our inaugural Charity Partner of the Year initiative was a huge success. Supporting our local community is very important to us. We will continue to make as much of a positive difference as we can with our 2020 Charity of the Year Partner.”

Section 129(1) of the Companies Act 2014 requires every company in Ireland to have a company secretary. Outlined below is a short description of the role of the company secretary followed by a brief introduction into a company secretary’s duties and obligations.

A company secretary is an officer of a company. The company secretary may also act as a director of the same company, but not act in dual capacity when signing documents on behalf of the company. The role differs from that of a Director of a company, in that the role focuses on tasks delegated by the board of the company.

A day in the life of a company secretary

The tasks for a company secretary can be varied. While the role of the company secretary predominantly consists of tasks delegated by the board of directors, the role of the company secretary goes beyond effectively and, efficiency communicating decisions of the board to the relevant bodies and may take on a much more advisory role within a company.

Often the role of the company secretary can consist of advising companies and boards on the best practices of corporate governance. Corporate governance embodies a wide variety of concepts and guidelines from the leadership involved to achieve a well-functioning board of directors, effectiveness of the board, accountability of officers of a company, inducting new directors and advising them on the board dynamics, remuneration and the importance of maintaining a transparent, functioning rapport with both the stakeholders and shareholders of company through effective general meetings. Thus, it is often the task of a company secretary to ensure that the directors of a company discharge their obligations in accordance with the Companies Act 2014.

A company secretary must also fulfil the more unsung tasks with regards to maintaining statutory registers coupled with the onerous task of attending board meetings in order to preserve and effectively record the minutes of that meeting.

It is important to note that while a company secretary doesn’t have as many codified duties as a director in terms of their common law and fiduciary duties, the role of a company secretary amounts to an officer of a company and thus is still subject to sanctions under the 2014 Companies Act.

In short, the day to day life of a company secretary depends on the need of a company and its board – whether it’s relaying the decisions of a board of the directors to the Companies Registration Office by registering changes in the boards structure, advising the board on a pressing corporate governance issue, attending board meetings or engaging with stakeholders or shareholders with regards to a general meeting or corporate event such as dividends.

For further information on the role of the company secretary, please contact David Morris, Senior Consultant in our Corporate Compliance Department.

SICAP Audits

The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018 –2022 provides funding to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion and equality through local engagement and partnerships with disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.

The programme has two goals that focus on supporting communities and individuals:

Goal 1: Supporting Communities – To support communities and target groups to engage with relevant stakeholders in identifying and addressing social exclusion and equality issues, developing the capacity of local community groups and creating more sustainable communities.

Goal 2: Supporting Individuals – To support disadvantaged individuals to improve the quality of their lives through the provision of lifelong learning and labour market supports.

SICAP is managed and administered by the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) in each local authority area, which may be delivered at a local level by external party/(ies).

From 2018, the role of conducting audit / verification checks on the external parties receiving SICAP funding has been subsumed into the internal audit function of each Local Authority.

How can Crowleys DFK help?

Crowleys DFK has the expertise to conduct SICAP audits / verification checks for Local Authorities’ Internal Audit Units and LCDCs.

Our subject matter specialists have taken part in SICAP training programmes delivered by both POBAL and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and our audit team are fully trained on the usage of SICAP’s data management system IRIS.

We understand that the audits must have a financial focus and can provide assurance that grant monies are spent for the purposes intended in accordance with programme rules and contractual conditions. The audits must also include a review of internal financial controls and corporate governance arrangements.

Contact Vincent Teo or Tony Cooney for more information on how Crowleys DFK can assist you with your SICAP audits.

The Central Bank have issued new regulations regarding new lending rules for Credit Unions. These will come into effect in January 2020.

As a result of the new regulations, the existing lending maturity limits which cap the percentage of their lending for periods of greater than five and ten years will be removed. These maturity limits will be replaced by new concentration limits on a tiered basis, for home mortgage and business loans, expressed as a percentage of total assets.

This means credit unions with the financial strength, competence and capability, will have the flexibility to undertake increased longer term lending. This includes home mortgage and business lending.

“The changes being announced today follow a comprehensive review of the lending framework for credit unions. This forms part of our commitment to ensuring a responsive regulatory framework. It is important that the lending framework remains appropriate for credit unions taking account of their risk management, capabilities, expertise and financial resilience,” said Patrick Casey, Registrar for Credit Unions.

You can read the Central Bank’s press release here.

At Crowleys DFK, we provide a variety of services to credit unions. For further information, please contact Tony Cooney, Partner in our Audit & Assurance Department.

Section 160-166 of the Companies Act 2014 (“the Act”) governs both board meetings and committee meetings by laying down guidelines, that can be amended or omitted from a company’s constitution and mandatory provisions, that must be adhered to. For the purpose of this article, board meetings will be the main point of discussion.

Every director is entitled to reasonable notice of the meeting, a meeting can be called by a director alone or by a company secretary at the requisition of a director. The quorum necessary for the transaction of business is fixed as 2 directors. However, where there is a sole director, one director is accepted to meet the requirements of a quorum. A Chairperson of a board meeting can be fixed for a specific period. However if the chosen Chairperson is not present and a period of 15 minutes has elapsed, the directors may choose one of their own to chair the meeting. The majority of votes may pass a resolution. If there is an equal vote, the Chairperson shall be the casting vote.

Section 161 provides for the option to pass a written resolution signed by all the relevant directors (i.e. directors who are entitled to notice of the meeting) in lieu of a board meeting. This has the same effect as physically holding the board meeting with the directors. This section also stipulates the manner in which a board meeting can be held and extends the scope of what it means to attend a board meeting through electronic communication. The section also provides a guide for the location of the board meetings, subject to the company’s constitution:

  • Where the largest group of those participating are assembled
  • If no such group exists, the next suitable location is the where the chairperson is
  • If neither of the above apply, then it falls to any such place that the meeting decides

The Act also covers the requirements for minute taking of the board minutes in section 166. The accurate and efficient recording, drafting and maintenance of minute taking is imperative to ensure administrative compliance. Section 166(1) states that minutes must be maintained for the following purposes:

  • All appointments of officers made by directors
  • The names of all the directors present at each meeting of its directors
  • All resolutions and proceedings at all meetings of its directors

Typically the Chairperson, once approved by the board, signs the minutes at the following board meeting. The board minutes can also be subject to inspection by the Director of Corporate Enforcement. If a company fails to comply with the Director of Corporate Enforcement regarding the request of the company’s minutes, the company and any officer in default shall be guilty of a category 4 offence, i.e. a fine not exceeding €5,000.

For further information, please contact David Morris, Senior Consultant in our Corporate Compliance Department.