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March 18, 2020

COVID-19: A condensed overview for employees

The current spread of COVID-19 across Europe is a worrying time for employees and employers alike. It is an unprecedented period and it is important to keep informed.

  • If my employer sends me home or requests that I stay home as a precaution to contain the spread of COVID-19?

There is an expectation by the Government that such employers will pay their staff as normal. Many employees now have capabilities to work remotely. If you are working from home by arrangement or by the direction of your employer, then you should be remunerated as normal. If a situation arises whereby your employer cannot continue to pay you in such circumstances, then you will be considered as being temporarily laid off and can apply for social welfare supports.


  • If my employer lays me off temporarily or puts me onto short term working?

You can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (more information below).


  • What if I need to take time off to take care of someone who is affected with COVID-19?

You should discuss matters with your employer. Options that could be available to you include compassionate leave, working remotely from home, altering shift patterns or availing of any annual leave entitlements.

There may also be some statutory entitlements available to you:

Force majeure leave: this is paid leave where for urgent family reasons, the immediate presence of the employee is indispensable owing to an injury or illness of a close family member (child, brother, sister, parent, grandparent or partner living with the employee). It is available for a total of 3 days in any 12-month period or 5 days in any 36-month period. Given the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19, the Government expects employers to facilitate their employees by allowing them to avail of the 5-day entitlement in one block.

Parental leave: this provides for unpaid leave up to 22 weeks for each eligible child before their 12th birthday (16th birthday in the case of a child with a disability or long-term illness). How you take this parental leave should be discussed with your employer. If you work part-time, your entitlement reduces on a pro rata basis. There are notice periods attaching to the taking of parental leave, which the Government hopes employers will forego given the exceptional circumstances that the country is now facing.

Parent’s leave: this entitled each parent to 2 weeks’ leave during the first year of a child’s life, or within the first year of the placement of an adopted child with the family. It applies to children born or adopted after 01 November 2019. It cannot be transferred between parents. There is no obligation on an employer to pay you during this leave, but you may qualify for Parent’s Benefit during parent’s leave (€245 per week).


  • New Social Welfare supports introduced by Government

COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

A new social welfare payment known as the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is now available to employees and the self employed who have lost employment as a result to the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment provides income support for a 6-week period (€203 per week), during which time persons should apply for jobseeker’s payments as normal. The application forms for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment can be downloaded online (https://www.gov.ie/en/service/be74d3-covid-19-pandemic-unemployment-payment/) and can then be submitted by Freepost to PO Box 12896.


COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit

An COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit payment (€305 per week) is available to those who are medically certified to self-isolate or have been diagnosed with COVID-19. This payment is available to both employees and the self-employed, who are absent from work and not in receipt of remuneration from their employer.


This article is not intended to convey any legal advice and is for general guidance only. Should you wish employment law advices during these challenging times, please contact Cathy Donald in our office.

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