Following an announcement from Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, this morning the following measures will come into effect from 6pm today until 29th March:
- Schools colleges and childcare facilities will close from tomorrow.
- Teaching will be done online or remotely.
- State-run “cultural institutions” will close.
- All museums, galleries and tourist sites will also be closed.
- Indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled.
- People arriving at airports and ports will be fully informed and should self-isolate if they develop symptoms.
- If possible, work remotely or stagger working times and break times.
- Outside of work, social interaction should be reduced as much as possible.
- Shops should remain open and public transport will continue to operate.
- Public and businesses urged to take a sensible and level headed approach.
It is likely that the above list will continue to expand as the days progress.
The focus for Employers is on prevention and mitigation – Employee health, safety and well-being during a health emergency is key. Employers have a statutory and contractual duty to care for people’s health and safety at work.
All Employers should ensure Management and Employees are being clearly communicated with during this time – including both the implementation of any actions been taken by the Organisation and also key details of the Contingency Plans that are in place.
This is an evolving situation – the pandemic status requires that those in your Organisation responsible for contingency planning meet regularly to review if agreed plans are still fit for purpose.
WORKING FROM HOME:
The Government has recommended that working from home should be permitted where possible. However, this will not be feasible for a number of roles or Organisations where the Employee’s presence is required. Where this is the case, we would recommend that Employers consult and consider alternative arrangements for their Employees.
This may be achieved through the Employer considering a range of flexible working arrangements with their Employees such as:
- allowing the Employee to ‘work-up’ any time taken at a future date
- allowing the Employee to avail of annual leave entitlements
- allowing the Employee to take a period of unpaid leave
- rearranging parental leave
- compassionate leave
SCHOOLS OR CRÈCHES CLOSING:
As the Taoiseach has announced schools, creches will be closed from 6pm today. It is important for Employers to note that this does not fall under the legal definition of force majeure leave, and therefore one of the flexible working arrangements outlined above should be facilitated, where possible.
Pay arrangements between Employers and Employees during periods of sick leave are dependent on the terms and conditions of the contract of employment, subject to obligations set down in law.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have introduced measures as of 9th March to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
3 major changes have been announced:
- the current 6-day waiting period for Illness Benefit will not apply to anyone who has COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or is in medically-required self-isolation
- the personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 per week to €305 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks medically-required self-isolation or for the full duration of absence from work following a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
- the normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefitwill be changed or the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be removed
- * People who work in the civil and public sector do not needto apply for Covid-19 related illness benefit as separate special leave arrangements have already been made
- *Those who are already in receipt of a welfare payment, including people engaged on state employment programmes such as CE and Tús or engaged in funded training and education programmes, do not need to apply– their existing payment will continue to be paid if they are affected by Covid-19
NOTE: In the interests of public health, this payment will only be paid where people remain confined to their home or a medical facility while in receipt of this enhanced Illness Benefit. Illness Benefit applications can be made via post. Forms are available at Intreo Centres and at GP surgeries or can be ordered by telephone from the Department at 1890 800 024. An online application is being developed and should be available by the end of March.
** Workers in receipt of the enhanced illness benefit payment who still face financial distress because their employer fails to pay sick pay beyond the level paid by the State, can apply for additional emergency income support, in the form of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (based on a means test).
Government continues to urge all Employers to as a minimum, pay Employees who cannot attend work due to Covid-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the enhanced Illness Benefit rate and their normal wages.
Any person who is not advised to self-isolate in accordance with the up-to-date guidelines of the HSE, but is requested to stay at home by their Employer as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19 will, in situations where the Employer cannot continue to pay their wages, be considered to have been temporarily laid-off and can apply for an income support in the form of a Jobseeker’s Payment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Employees who are laid off temporarily, without pay, due to a reduction in business activity, can apply for a Jobseeker’s Payment. This application can be made online at www.mywelfare.ie or in person at an Intreo Centre.
Employees who are put onto short-time working by their Employer due to a reduction in business activity related to Covid-19 may apply for a Short Time Work Support payment. This application can be made in person at an Intreo Centre.
The payment is made in respect of your regular salary for the days that you are no longer working. For example, if your working week has been reduced from a 5 day work pattern to a 3 day work pattern, you can receive support for the other 2 days.
Short-time Work Support is paid for a maximum of 234 days. Your entitlement will depend on the number of social insurance contributions you have.
To qualify for Short-time Work Support, you must be:
- temporarily working a standard reduced weekly work pattern
- working 3 days or less per week having previously worked full-time
- be under 66 years of age
- be capable of work and be available for full-time work
have enough paid or credited social insurance (PRSI) contributions at class A, H, S or P.
For further information or advice, please contact your designated experienced HR Client Manager in
Adare Human Resource Management – 01 561 3594 / 061 363 805 or firstname.lastname@example.org .