Will you be paid if public transport is shut down due to Coronavirus/Covid-19?
Will you be paid if the schools close and you have to mind children at home?
Will you be paid if you have to self isolate?
These are some of the questions touching upon employment law which are causing workers a great deal of concern and anxiety.
Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios.
- The employee contracts Covid-19
The employee’s sick pay entitlements, if any, will be those set out in the contract of employment and/or staff handbook. There is no legal or statutory entitlement, however, to sick pay. The employee may be entitled to illness benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
2. The employer closes down but the employee can work from home
The employee is entitled to be paid, assuming she is working.
3. The employer closes down but the employee cannot work from home
There is no entitlement to be paid and a temporary lay off situation may arise. An alternative is for the employee to take any accrued but untaken annual leave, in which case he would be paid.
4. The employee cannot come to work because she is caring for a person who has Covid-19
Force majeure leave may be applicable in this situation. However, the maximum amount of force majeure leave is 3 days in a 12 month period and the care must be for a close family member with the employee’s presence indispensable in the circumstance.
5. Public transport closes down and the employee cannot get to work
Unless there is provision in the staff handbook for pay it is extremely unlikely that the employee is entitled to be paid.
6. School has closed and the employee must mind a child
If the employee can continue working she would be entitled to pay. If she cannot work parental leave or annual leave or unpaid leave may be a possibility. Unpaid leave will need the agreement of the employer, however.
7. The employee returns from an infected area and the employer tells him to self-isolate
There is no entitled to be paid, unless the employee can work from home. However, if the employee was required to travel to the infected area at the request or direction of the employer, or in fulfilling his contract of employment, he would have a strong argument to be paid whilst self isolating on his return.
If the employee was returning from a holiday to an infected area he would have no entitlement to sick pay if required to self isolate but he may be entitled to illness benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
Illness benefit and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
New measures have now come into effect regarding illness benefit. Three big changes include
- The 6 day waiting period for illness benefit will not apply to any person who has Covid-19 or is in medically-required self-isolation
- Illness benefit will increase to €305 per week for a maximum of two weeks for anyone in medically required self-isolation or for the full absence from work on account of a diagnosis of Covid-19
- the normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be changed or the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be removed
You will find useful links about illness benefit, pay, and information for employers and employees on this Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection page.
The best advice during this whole situation is to closely follow the advice of the Department of Health and the HSE experts, especially regarding social distancing and good hand hygiene.
Hopefully, we will be looking back on this period as a peculiar, once in a lifetime event in the not too distant future.