Update: 24 April 2020
For most people, MERA is payable from 6 April 2020 and is paid 2 weeks in arrears. However, in order to get initial payments set up and money to customers as quickly as possible, staff have in many cases made a one-off payment for the first week and claimants then move on to the fortnightly payment runs.
For example, first payments received between April 16 and 24 covered period April 6-12 April (£200 - one week); the next payment of £400 reached accounts on 30 April covering the two-week period April 13-26 April and then every two weeks thereafter.
Those involved in the construction and horticulture sectors, and who do not return to work from April 24, continue to qualify for MERA or Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (“MERA”) provides an income of £200 per week to people who have been temporarily or permanently laid off, or lost their self-employed work since 2 March 2020. It was introduced on 6 April 2020 and has been extended to 20 September 2020. From 1 June those that have previously received a grant under the Coronavirus Business Support Scheme will be eligible to apply.
It is available to both displaced employees - where their employer is unable to retain them under the Business Wage Support Scheme - as well as the self-employed, and will be payable for a maximum of 24 weeks between 6 April 2020 and 20 September 2020. No payment can be made for any period on or after 21 September 2020.
Employees must have been earning at least £200 per week, on average, in at least 13 of the 26 weeks prior to the date they claim MERA.
The self-employed must have actually registered to be self-employed with The Treasury before 2 March 2020 and have paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions in at least 13 of the 26 weeks prior to the date of their claim. Some self-employed people who have had low earnings won’t be able to qualify.
To qualify for MERA a person must be aged 18 or over (but under state pension age), not be working and be available for and capable of returning to work straightaway.
A person will not be paid MERA for any week in which they have earnings of more than £50 or they receive any remuneration from their employer. A self-employed person cannot claim MERA if they have received a Coronavirus Business Support Grant.
MERA is a benefit for the individual. For those people who have partners, their partner’s income will not affect their entitlement to MERA. A person’s savings or other assets will also not affect entitlement to MERA.
MERA has been designed as a temporary safety net for displaced workers. When MERA ends on 20 September they can either return to their former employment (if their employer agrees) , find alternative employment or move on to standard welfare support if they’re unable to secure employment beyond this period.
Both the COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme and MERA will work together. Some employees may be retained, and paid wages initially (with their employer claiming from the COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme), but if they’re later laid off they can move onto MERA. Similarly, they may go on to MERA initially, but may be taken back on by their employer later on in which case they would stop getting MERA.
How to claim MERA
You have up to one month to claim. If you don’t claim within a month of the date you became unemployed you may lose money you might otherwise have been entitled to.
MERA will be paid fortnightly in arrears by direct credit transfer to your bank account.
You can claim MERA if you:
- are already getting contribution-based jobseeker's allowance
- became unemployed on or after 2 March
- meet the entitlement conditions for MERA listed above
But if you’re already getting a jobseeker’s allowance of more than £200 a week there would be no advantage to you claiming MERA.
If you can’t claim online you should contact Social Security on 685656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for claim form to be sent to you.