As we navigate our way through unchartered territory amidst a global pandemic, the basics of how we live and work everyday have been thrown in to uncertainty.
As hundreds have already lost their jobs, the future of thousands more remains unclear. But as an employee, what are your rights if you are put on temporary leave or let go?
If Your Employers Close – Do You Get Paid?
Your employer may decide to close their business for this period and send you home. This is called a temporary lay-off. If your employer cannot pay for this period, you can apply for a special new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
The payment will be available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost employment due to a downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment has a simple one–page application form and will be paid for a period of 6 weeks at a flat rate payment of €350 per week for jobseekers.
If your employer reduces your hours to 3 days or less per week from your normal full-time hours, you can apply for a payment called Short Time Work Support which is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit.
Your employer can also put you on short-time working which is a more formal procedure and applies in the following situation:
Due to a reduction in the amount of work to be done, your weekly pay is less than half your normal weekly pay or your hours worked are reduced to less than half your normal weekly working hours
What If I Have Been Told to Self Isolate?
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should not go to work. You should contact your GP for advice.
If you are sick with coronavirus, you may be entitled to sick pay from your employer. This depends on your contract of employment. Your employer does not have to pay you when you cannot come to work because you are sick with coronavirus, unless it is part of your contract of employment.
If your employer does not pay you, you should apply for enhanced Illness Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. You do not need to satisfy the usual PRSI conditions for Illness Benefit if you are off sick from work with COVID-19. This means that you will be eligible for the payment even if you have only recently started working.
Your GP may advise you to self-isolate before you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. This means that you have been asked to stay indoors and completely avoid contact with other people. You are entitled to Illness Benefit if you have been medically advised to self-isolate.
Enhanced Illness Benefit will be paid at a higher rate than Illness Benefit and is only available where you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate by a medical professional because of COVID-19.
My Workplace Is Open But I have No Childcare!
Your place of work may still be open over the coming weeks, and your employer may be expecting you to go to work as usual. If you cannot do this because you have to look after children and they are not sick with the virus, you can ask your employer for paid leave.
The Government has asked employers to be as flexible as possible in allowing staff time off to look after their children or other members of their families. This could include:
- Offering paid compassionate leave
- Allowing you to work from home
- Altering your shifts, so that you can coordinate caring between you and your partner, or another person.
- Allowing you to rearrange holidays
- Allowing you to take paid time off that you can work back at a later time
What employees and employers need to remember is that while the future remains unclear, we all need to work together and be flexible in our approach to working and while it is undoubtedly a very stressful time for both employees and those running a business, the more creative we can be in our approach, will lessen the impact for everyone.
A full list of your entitlements during the Covid 19 crisis are also available on the Citizens Information website and on www.hse.ie.
The material contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only and does not amount to legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, we advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.