• COVID-19 HR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

    In response to people management queries raised by employers in the racing and thoroughbred breeding industry relating to COVID-19 restrictions, we have produced this FAQ guide. If you have a query which you would like to see featured on this page please email [email protected].

    It is important that business owners keep up to date daily and follow advice from the following organisations where they apply to their businesses, as these take precedence over the FAQ responses in this document:


    Republic of Ireland

    • HSE advice on COVID-19 can be found here.
    • The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has published COVID-19 Information for Employers and Employees which is available here.


    Northern Ireland

    • Public Health advice on COVID-19 can be found here.
    • Department of Economy has published Covid-19 Information for Employers and Employees which is available here.


    The information on this page was last updated on Monday 6th April 2020.


    HR basic measures to follow include:

    Employers should have a plan setting out the steps that they are taking to try to protect against an outbreak of COVD-19 in their workplace and what steps should be followed if there is an outbreak of COVID-19.

    • displaying the posters which have been produced by the HSE / Public Health NI to raise awareness of measures preventing the spread of Covid-19, scroll down to find resource links at the bottom of this page;

    • carrying out a risk assessment, ensuring good hygiene practices in the workplace and training employees on recognising COVID-19 symptoms and the steps they should take if they suspect they may have come into contract with someone who is infected;

    • Ensuring that all potential incidents are being reported so you can understand the overall risk to the business

    • Communicating to employees any updates on COVID-19 from government sources as the situation changes;
    • Making sure everyone's contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.




  • Self Isolation FAQs


    Republic of Ireland

    The HSE has advised self-isolation where an employee has developed symptoms of coronavirus, is waiting to get tested, is waiting for test results, has any cold or flu-like symptoms, or has coronavirus. 

    • An employee who has developed symptoms should be on sick leave, and therefore not working.
    • If the employee is asymptomatic, it may be possible for the employer to ask the employee to work from home. 
    • HSE criteria for self-isolation can be found here:


    Northern Ireland

    Public Health guidance requires individuals who have symptoms of coronavirus to self-isolate for 7 days and remain self-isolating after the 7day period has elapsed until the individual no longer has a high temperature.



    For individuals living with someone who has symptoms, the requirement is to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. If in turn the individual develops symptoms, the requirement is self-isolate for 7 days from when their specific symptoms start, even if it means they are self-isolating for longer than 14 days. In the event they do not develop symptoms, they can stop self-isolating after 14 days.



    Source: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/




    Republic of Ireland

    HSE guidance is that individuals showing symptoms of the coronavirus must only stop self-isolating when both of these apply:

    • the individual has had no fever for 5 days
    • it has been 14 days since the individual first developed symptoms

    HSE guidance on self-isolation can be found here.


    Northern Ireland

    Public Health guidance is that individuals who live alone can end their self-isolation after 7 days. If living with others, then all household members who remain well may end household-isolation after 14 days.

    Public Health guidance on self-isolation can be found here

    No. If the employee has followed medical and government advice and self-isolated, they can return to work as they will be deemed no longer contagious. The cough might seem unsettling for their colleagues, but you can reassure them that the cough might persist for a few weeks afterwards and they are not contagious.

    Follow your normal sickness absence procedures, which may require the employee to contact their GP over the phone if they still are showing symptoms of the COVID-19 or by visiting their GP if they have symptoms unrelated to COVID-19.



  • Sick Pay FAQs

  • Republic of Ireland

    If an employee is absent on sick leave and has symptoms of COVID-19, whether they are entitled to receive pay from their employer will depend on the employer's sick pay policy. There is no legal obligation for an employer to pay an employee while on sick leave, unless the employer has agreed to do so in an employment contract or policy.

    Where an employee is medically required to self-isolate or has been diagnosed with Covid-19, they can apply for the special, enhanced Illness Benefit payment. To be eligible for this payment a person must be confined to their home or a medical facility. 


    Further information is available from the Department of Social Welfare available here.


    Northern Ireland

    If an employee is absent on sick leave with symptoms of COVID-19, this should be treated in the same way as any other sickness absence in terms of payment. If the employer normally only pays statutory sick pay (SSP) during sickness absence, then this is what the employee should receive subject to meeting the qualifying criteria. Employees who are self-isolating on medical advice are also eligible for SSP.

    Statutory Sick Pay information is available from the UK Government website available here.

  • Data Protection FAQs

  • While employers have a legal obligation to protect the health of their employees, employees also have a duty to take reasonable care to protect their health, and the health of any other person in the workplace. In this regard, employers would be justified in requiring employees to inform them if they have a medical diagnosis of COVID-19 in order to allow necessary steps to be taken.


    However, it is important to keep in mind that the recording of any health information must be justified and factual, and must be limited to what is necessary in order to allow an employer to implement health and safety measures.

    Employers should follow the advice and directions of the public health authorities, which may require the disclosure of personal data in the public interest to protect against serious threats to public health.


    Employees should follow the advice of their healthcare practitioners and the public health authorities in these circumstances, who will instruct them as to what they need to do if they present symptoms of COVID-19


    Further information on Data Protection is available from the Data Protection Commissioner available here.

    This should be avoided, in the interests of maintaining the confidentiality of the employee’s personal data. For example, an employer would be justified in informing staff that there has been a case, or suspected case, of COVID 19 in the organisation and requesting them to work from home. This communication should not name the affected individual.

    Disclosure of this information may be required by the public health authorities in order to carry out their functions. 


    Further information on Data Protection is available from the Data Protection Commissioner available here.



  • Lay-off and Short-time FAQs

  • Lay-off occurs when normal working is interrupted and the employer is unable to retain employees in their normal capacity. The situation is of a temporary nature and advance notice has been given to all concerned. Employees are laid off for a specified period of time, until trading conditions improve, or until the reasons behind the lay-off no longer exist.


    Short-time working is where an employee’s working week decreases to less than half of his or her normal weekly hours, or his or her pay is less than half of his or her normal take home pay; and the situation is not considered to be permanent and advance notice is given





    Republic of Ireland

    The general pattern of short-time working is the ‘3 day week’ where employees work 3 days and claim social welfare for the remaining working week. The employer is required to pay the employee for the days worked as normal.  Employees who are put onto short-time working by their employer due to a reduction in business activity related to Covid-19 may qualify for Short Time Work Support, further details found on the Irish Government website found here.


    Northern Ireland

    A statutory 'guarantee payment' is payable to employees, subject to certain requirements. The maximum payment is £29 per day for up to five 'workless' days in any three-month period, so a total maximum of £145. Part-time payments are calculated pro rata. An employer could choose to pay more.


    The National Standards agency’s guidance document states:


    The following should be implemented where it is practicable to do so: 

    • cross-train, and identify alternative sources of labour to facilitate a full complement of the required skills needed on each team/shift;
    • Avoid switching of employees from one shift to another;
    • implement an ‘air gap’ or delayed shift changeover to accommodate a full cleaning/disinfection of all shared equipment, and reduce unnecessary interactions between different shift personnel;
    • minimise the sharing of equipment and/or tools; and
    • identify and suspend all non-essential operations which do not directly impact business functionality


    NSAI COVID-19 Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide is available here.

    Republic of Ireland

    Section 29 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 has temporarily suspended the provisions of Section 12 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 from 13 March 2020 until 31 May 2020. This means that the right to seek a redundancy payment by reason of lay-off or short-time does not apply to any Covid-19 related lay-offs which occur between 13 March and 31 May 2020.  


    Northern Ireland

    If an employee is earning less than half their normal pay due to being laid off or put on short-time working for either:

    • 4 or more weeks in a row
    • a total of 6 weeks in any 13-week period

    they are eligible to claim for a redundancy payment if they meet the eligibility criteria for statutory redundancy pay.

  • Coronavirus wage subsidy / job retention scheme FAQs


    Republic of Ireland

    On Tuesday, 24 March the Government announced new measures to provide financial support to workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. As part of these measures, Revenue will operate a Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. The scheme enables employees whose employers are affected by the pandemic, to receive significant supports directly from their employer through the payroll system. The scheme is expected to last 12 weeks from 26 March 2020.


    Northern Ireland

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least 3 months starting from 1 March 2020.  It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).


    Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.


    The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.



    Republic of Ireland

    The Scheme is available to employers from all sectors (excluding the public service and non-commercial semi-state sector) whose business activities are being adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


    To qualify for the scheme, employers must

    • be experiencing significant negative economic disruption due to Covid-19
    • be able to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of Revenue, a minimum of a 25% decline in turnover
    • be unable to pay normal wages and normal outgoings fully and
    • retain their employees on the payroll.


    The Scheme is confined to employees who were on the employer’s payroll as at 29 February 2020, and for whom a payroll submission has already been made to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020.  Further information is available from the Revenue Commissioners – here.


    Northern Ireland

    Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies, and public authorities.  It is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy.


    If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.


    Further information is available from the UK Government website – here.



    Republic of Ireland

    Updated details in relation to the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme can be found at www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/communications/covid19/temporary-covid-19-wage-subsidy-scheme.aspx


    Northern Ireland

    Three months but could be extended depending upon the circumstances.


  • Free coronavirus resources

    How to Prevent Covid-19 Spreading Video & Poster

    HSE Video – click here.

    HSE Poster – click here.


    Hand Washing Video & Poster

    WHO Video – click here.

    HSE Poster – click here.


    Business Continuity Checklist

    The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has published a Business Continuity Planning checklist. This is a checklist of some of the key risks to the continuity of business activities during the outbreak of COVID-19 and of preparatory actions that can be taken to respond – click here.

    Please click here for HRI guidance to Trainers on business continuity planning during COVID19 restrictions.





    Content is provided as information only based on information available.

    Any content provided or referred to is subject to change and may have changed between the time of publication and when you read it.  This is particularly the case in relation to COVID-19 material.  

    Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for any other commercial or non-commercial purposes.

    Neither us nor any of our data or content providers shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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