COVID-19 – Where do employees stand?
In light of the unprecedented situation facing us at the moment, many employees have unfortunately found themselves self-isolating, on sick leave, laid off or on reduced hours. If you find yourself in this situation, you should be aware of your employee rights and the supports available to you.
A layoff occurs when an employer is temporarily unable to provide an employee with work.
Many contracts of employment specifically provide for such a situation and state that such layoffs will be unpaid. In the event that there is no contractual provision, employers may be able to rely on an implied right based on custom and practice in the organisation, industry or even trade.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment provides support for the self-employed or employees who are laid off temporarily without pay due to the COVID- 19 pandemic for a 12-week period. You should apply for the new social welfare payment payments via MyWelfare.ie.
Alternatively, Employers can avail of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme which has replaced the Employer COVID-19 Refund Scheme. The scheme allows an employer to keep you on payroll and provides a refund to eligible employers of up to 70% of an employee’s wage up to a maximum of €410 per week. You should discuss the possibility of the application of this scheme directly with your employer.
If you were placed on short-time working (i.e. reduced hours) as a result of COVID-19, you may apply for Short Time Work Support Payment. The entitlement to this payment is based on your PRSI record and the number of days you are not working. To qualify, you must have been previously working full-time and now working 3 days or fewer per week.
Ordinarily, if layoff or short time continues for 4 weeks or more or for 6 weeks in a period of 13 weeks, an employee may serve written notice of intention to claim redundancy on his/her employer. During the COVID-19 emergency period, which is set as 13 March – 31 May 2020 but could be extended, you will not be able to claim redundancy from your employer if you were laid off or put on short-time work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-Isolation/Diagnosis of COVID-19
If you have been directed to self-isolate or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a doctor, you may apply for an Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment of €350 per week for up to two weeks. You must be confined to your home or a medical facility in order to be eligible.
Your doctor must provide a medical certificate regarding the self-isolation or diagnosis to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to commence the application process. Then you will need to complete an Illness Benefit Application Form (IB1).
An employee’s right to sick pay from their employer depends on their individual contract of employment. Employers are not legally obliged to pay employees during sick leave unless it is a term (expressed or implied, depending on the circumstances) of the employee’s contract.
How do I access the various payments/benefits?
Where possible, apply online or by post for the various payments and benefits. Calling into the Intreo offices should be avoided for social distancing reasons as they are expected to be busy.
Useful External Links/Contacts
The application form for COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
Applications for Jobseekers Payments can be made on www.mywelfare.ie
Enhanced Illness Benefit Payment application forms are available by contacting 1890 800 024 or by requesting a friend or family member to collect one from your GP surgery/local Intreo Office.
An Income Support Helpline for COVID-19 can be reached at 1890 800 024/ 01 248 1398
Employees and employers should monitor the situation and the Government and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s updates regularly as further information may become available and measures may change.