COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. Ireland is trying to reduce transmission of the virus by implementing a range of measures.
The following measures are in effect until Sunday 29 March 2020:
- Schools, colleges and childcare facilities are closed from the evening of 12 March
- Indoor mass gatherings of 100 people or more and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled
- All State-run cultural institutions are closed
- All pubs have been advised to close from midnight on 15 March
- People have also been asked not to have house parties.
Where it is possible to work remotely people should do so. Public transport will continue and shops will continue to remain open.
As a result of the restrictions, many businesses have been forced to lay staff off or reduce their working hours.
This document gives a summary of social welfare payments available for people:
- With no work or reduced hours
- Who are sick or who are looking after someone who is sick
- Who cannot work because they are looking after children
The information set out here is likely to change in the week ahead so please check back as we will continue to add information as it is announced.
People with no work or reduced hours
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.
This new 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 €203 per week for jobseekers. It is designed to quickly deliver a social welfare payment to the unemployed and provide income security during this 6-week period.
You can get the application form on gov.ie (pdf). You need to post the form to PO BOX 12896, Dublin 1.
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.
Find out more about lay-off and short-time working.
Find out more about your employment rights during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Find out more about:
People who are sick and cannot work
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.
The 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 new enhanced Illness Benefit rate will be effective from 9 March 2020 and workers will be entitled to a refund of any arrears due from this date when the legislation is in place.
- The normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be waived or the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be removed, if you are medically required to self-isolate or 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. The DEASP has provided information about how to apply for Illness Benefit if you are affected by COVID-19 or you can call 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398.
You can also view an infographic about applying for Illness Benefit if you are affected by COVID-19.
If you work in the civil and public sector, you do not need to apply for enhanced Illness Benefit as separate leave arrangements are in place.
If you are on an employment programme such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús or a funded training and education programme, or if you are already getting a social welfare payment, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. Your existing payment will continue to be paid if you are affected by coronavirus.
People who cannot work because they have to look after children
At present there are no specific payments for people who cannot work because they have to look after children who are off school. 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
If you have no income while you are caring at home you may be able to claim Supplementary Welfare Allowance.