Covid-19 (coronavirus) has now been deemed a pandemic with daily increases in confirmed cases of the viral infection. The question more people are asking is ‘What are my rights if I either catch the Corona Virus or my employer requests I stay at home?‘ The impact of self-isolation is a worry for both the employer and employee. The Department of Social Protection has issued the following advice for all workers about the Covid-19 outbreak:
If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19
The department has stated that where an employee is diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus, normal workplace arrangements of sick leave should apply. If you are not entitled to paid sick leave from your employer, you can apply for income support, Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance. You will need to check your employment contract to determine if you are entitled to paid sick leave. If there is no paid sick leave clause in your contract, your employer is not obliged to pay you during a period of absence.
If 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. This is also the case if you are already getting a social welfare payment.
You have not been diagnosed with Corona Virus but are self-isolating
If you have been advised by a medical professional to self-isolate on the case that you are a source of infection, your employer is entitled to stop paying your wages. You can apply for income support from the Department of Social Protection. If you are self-isolating under the most current HSE Covid-19 guidelines but do not have a medical certificate from a medical practitioner, You can apply for supplementary welfare income.
You have been requested to stay home by the employer
If you are not advised by a medical professional to self-isolate in accordance with the HSE guidelines, but your employer requests you stay at home as a precaution (to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus), you can apply for either jobseekers or supplementary welfare allowance if your employer cannot continue paying your wages.
A family member has been affected by Covid-19 and you need to care for them
Your employer can agree to compassionate leave if you need to take a short period of time off of work to care for another person. These arrangements can be as follows. Working remotely, change shift work times, work the time taken after or bring forward any annual leave entitlements from future work periods.
If you cannot make any compassionate leave arrangements, you can utilise statutory entitlements. You are entitled to paid leave (force majeure leave) when you are required to help the needs of someone who is affected by an injury or illness the Coronavirus. The person in need of care must be ‘in a relationship of “domestic dependency” with you. This leave is limited to three days in a 12 month period or five days in a 36 month period.
If you have children, you are entitled to take (with six weeks notice) up to twenty-two weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child under the age of twelve. In the case of a child with a disability, this age is increased to sixteen years old. You may apply for parents benefit if you are eligible to take this leave. Your employer has the ability to waive any notice periods for parental leave or agree to provide you with paid leave as an alternative. Employers can also agree with alternative leave/absence arrangements.