Corona Virus - HR Advice for Employers
Practical Preventative Advice
- Produce & display signage encouraging all to wash hands in the correct manner
- Produce & display signage for the signs and symptoms of corona virus and practical advice on how to limit spreading and contracting it
- Please ensure any signage you begin to use is from a reputable source, i.e. HSE or WHO
- Provide sanitizer all around the workplace
- Nominate a Corona Virus (Covid19) Go-to-Person as the link person for your organisation
- Identify any employees who might be ‘high-risk’ and therefore vulnerable, and put specific plans in place for protecting them
Business Continuity Plans
- Ensure that you have an assigned a Steering Group to develop or oversee a plan for the business in all possible scenarios.
- Now is the time to begin stress testing plans instead of perhaps waiting until forced to put plans into action and then not being able to fix the issues that arise.
- A good example of this is perhaps stress testing working from home on a rotational basis by staggering groups of employees now, this to assess the effectiveness and to control the amount of people who remain in contact within the business. It is also a good rule of thumb to assign these groups so they have a good mix of skills and relevant decision makers in each group.
Corona Virus and Illness Benefit Temporary Changes
COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your heart lungs and airways.
The Government has announced that the rules for Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be changed to help prevent the transmission of Coronavirus. The changes mean that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get income support.
Legislation is required to implement these changes and emergency legislation is being prepared.
The main changes are:
- You will not have to wait 6 days before you can apply for Illness Benefit. This means Illness Benefit can cover the first week of a COVID-19 diagnosis (or medically-required self-isolation) and any subsequent weeks.
- The personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 to €305 per week for up to 2 weeks if you are medically required to self-isolate, or for the duration of your medically-certified absence from work with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
- The normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be waived, if you are medically required to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19.
- You can get Supplementary Welfare Allowancewithout having to pass a means test, if you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit and you are medically required to self-isolate or are diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Government has also stated that self-employed people will be able to get either Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
If you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been medically required to self-isolate, you should not visit an Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office. You can get information about applying for social welfare payments through My Welfare and you can call 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398.
If you are already getting a social welfare payment or you are on an employment programme such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús or a funded training and education programme, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. Your existing payment will continue to be paid if you are affected by COVID-19.
Payments relating to Corona Virus (Covid-19)
Employee self-isolating by their own choice and not government guidelines or medical requirement:
No payment is required by law as this is the employees own choice
Employee self-isolating by government guidelines or medical requirement:
Illness benefit would be payable to the employee from day 1
Government have now urged all employers to support national public health objectives by continuing, as a minimum, to pay employees who cannot attend work due to Covid-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the special Illness Benefit rate and their normal wages. This may be achieved through the employer considering a range of flexible working arrangements with their employees such as:
- compassionate leave
- allowing the employee to work remotely
- allowing the staff member to ‘work-up’ any time taken at a future date
- allowing the employee to avail of annual leave entitlements
- rearranging parental leave
A number of income supports are available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for people whose employers do not continue to pay them during a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) related absence or temporary lay-off from work.
Employee self-isolating because employer requests when government guidelines or medical requirements do not exist
Full payment to the employee would be required by the employer
Other methods of Leave
If you are considering the option of lay-off or short-term working please observe all points below and consider carefully:
- It may not be seen as the most supportive measure
- It has to exist as a policy in employees signed contract or handbook
- If it exceeds a 4-week period an employee can apply to seek redundancy
This measure is a little less appealing in our opinion and should only be used as a last resort when the organisation has explored all other options..