The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has published a Guidance Notice for employers and employees in connection with managing their response to Covid-19. This WRC Guidance Notice contains a lot of helpful information. You can view the Guidance Notice here.
A commonly asked question is whether there is an on-going entitlement by employees to pay from their employers, during absence periods connected to Covid-19. This question arises particularly where the individual employees themselves are not medically certified as being ill, but where they are required to remain at home from work, as a result of precautionary measures taken in line with HSE or HPSC advices.
The position is as follows:-
There is no statutory entitlement for an employee to be paid by their employer, if they are absent from work for infection control reasons. In such circumstances, employers and their employees should engage proactively and work to be as flexible as possible to resolve any issues arising at the level of employment and explore options such as:-
- Working from home or other remote working arrangements where feasible and practical;
- Working from an alternative location where feasible and practical;
- Agreement to work back the hours / days lost, more relevant to part time workers;
- Alternative opening days on a day where the organisation is normally closed; and/or
- The taking of holiday leave to avoid employee loss of earnings.
In situations where the employer’s ability to provide work to its employees is impacted, the employer may put employees on a period of 'layoff'. Periods of layoff are unpaid. There are a number of social welfare payments that employees may potentially be entitled to. For further detail, please see the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website here.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced today that new legislation may be required to protect employees’ rights, in the areas of employment law and social insurance. Accordingly, this situation should be kept under review for changes made at a legislative level.