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MERA to be paid for 14 days after return to work

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The Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (MERA) will continue to be paid for a further 14 days from the date a person returns to work.

The measure was announced by Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan MHK at today’s coronavirus press briefing, during which he outlined the Isle of Man Government’s current position and the intention to present a revised financial plan to Tynwald in July.

The decision to extend MERA follows a return to work for those involved in the construction and horticulture sectors, recognising that many will not get paid by their employers or customers straightaway.

Minister Cannan said:

‘It is good news that some people have been able to return to work, subject to certain conditions around social distancing rules, which must be observed at all times.

‘Many will not get paid straightaway, however, and have been relying on MERA for the past few weeks during lockdown. This 14-day extension will continue to deliver financial support in the short term.’

Earlier today, Tynwald approved an extension of the Salary Support Scheme (SSS) which, along with MERA, runs for 12 weeks and is the Government’s central mechanism to support the economy through the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of employees which a business must employ to qualify for the SSS has been reduced from a minimum of 2 to 1, and all claimants now have until May 31 to claim for the first four weeks. Around 1,600 employers are registered with the Assessor of Income Tax as having one employee, and the extension is forecast to cost an additional £5.3m.

Minister Cannan said:

‘Some of you have been able to return to work and be in a position to earn a wage, and so will no longer require support. I recognise, though, that for many of you that is not case and, dependent on how we are able to phase our return to normality, will require ongoing support.

‘We are actively considering how and to whom the existing schemes might be extended. We are working closely with our colleagues in the Department for Enterprise to understand more broadly what we need to do to further support the economy and provide as much opportunity for work and employment as possible.’

He added: ‘As we move forward, there will be a need for further financial planning and it is clear that we must re-examine and refocus our financial plans for the current year.

I intend to bring an update on this year’s budget to Tynwald in July, setting out our plans in more detail.

‘We are paying millions of pounds out in support for our businesses and individuals. We are continuing to work hard across the community to find a way through this and, of course, we have taken the first steps to getting the economy back on its feet.

‘Together we are making progress.’