• The government announced on the 24th March a National COVID-19 Income Support Scheme. This will provide financial support to Irish workers and companies affected by the crisis. It includes:

    With effect from 8am on 17 March, the following measures have been put in place to help you remain connected to your electricity and gas supplies during this period:

    Emergency measures were announced on 19th March to protect tenants impacted by COVID-19. These are:

    A series of measures to support people impacted by COVID-19 have been announced by the banking sector. These include the following: 

    • Flexible arrangements, including a payment break for mortgages and other loans. Customers affected by COVID-19 must contact their bank to discuss the flexibility available to them, including the possibility of a payment break of up to 3 months. Non-bank mortgage lenders and credit servicing firms have also announced their support for this measure

    • Support for buy-to-let bank customers with tenants affected by COVID-19 – customers with rental property in which the tenants are adversely impacted by COVID-19 will also be provided with flexibility including with an opportunity to seek a payment break of up to 3 months, which will allow them to exercise due levels of forbearance to their tenants

    • Payment breaks as a result of COVID-19 will not affect credit records

    • Visit www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/covid19_overview.html#l771b2id19_overview.html#l771b2

      The COVID-19 crisis is presenting immediate and severe financial challenges for businesses. Here are some practical steps, supports and guidance:

       

      Guidance for employees

      Read all the latest guidance and frequently asked questions for employees including details about statutory sick pay and Universal Credit. 

       

      Staying at home

      If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started.

      If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

      See the stay at home guidance for more information.

       

      Sick pay

      You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

      If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.

      To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) page for more information.

       

      SSP start date

      We are legislating for SSP to be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work if you are absent from work due to sickness or need to stay at home due to COVID-19. Once the legislation has been passed, this will apply retrospectively from 13 March. You should talk to your employer if you are eligible for SSP and need to claim.

       

      Proof of sickness  

      If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

      If you’re self-employed or not eligible for SSPIf you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you are self-employed or earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

      If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

       

      Furloughed workers

      If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

      If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off. 

      To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

      You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

      If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

      We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.

       

      Claiming benefits

      Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

      From 6 April we are increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for 1 year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants.

       

      If you have COVID-19 or are staying at home

      You are now able to claim Universal Credit, and if required can access advance payments upfront without needing to attend a jobcentre.

       

      If you are self-employed 

      You are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria.

      To support you with the economic impact of the outbreak, and allow you to follow government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, from 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.

      New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

       

      Support for rent costs

      You should check your eligibility for Universal Credit, which is available for people in and out of work. Support for rental costs will be paid through Universal Credit.

      From April, we are increasing Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. This applies to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.

       

      Sickness and disability benefits

      Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be temporarily suspended for the next 3 months from Tuesday 17 March. No further action is required by any claimant as a result of this change. They will be contacted with advice on next steps.

       

      Travel

      Find out all the latest travel advice and sign up for travel alerts via the Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) website.

       

       

      Appointments at Jobs and Benefits offices

      From Monday 16 March, all appointments at Jobs & Benefits offices are postponed. Nobody will have to visit Jobs & Benefits offices at any stage of making a new claim, except in exceptional circumstances.

       

       

      Job Seekers Allowance

      If you are due to sign-on you are excused from signing.

       

      Benefit Payments

      If you are already receiving benefits, you will continue to receive payments. Payments will still be processed as usual.

      You will not be penalised as a result of a postponed appointment.

       

       

      How the Department for Communities will get in touch

      If you are claiming benefits a Work Coach will communicate with you via your on-line journal, by phone and will reschedule appointments for a later date.

       

      Universal Credit

      New claims to Universal Credit can still be made on-line with additional telephone support available via the Universal Credit Service Centre if you need help with a new claim.

       

      Discretionary Support

      If you are claiming Discretionary Support you will not need to visit a Jobs & Benefits office as part of that claim.

       

      Make the Call

      With immediate effect, all routine appointments for the Make the Call Service, compliance and benefit review interviews will cease and face to face appointments and assessments for the delivery of provision under work and wellbeing, including the Access to Work Programme and Steps 2 Success will also be temporarily suspended.

       

      Access to Work

      The Access to Work Programme is suspended.

       

      Personal Independence Payment

      All Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appointments at assessment centres have been postponed. To claim PIP contact the PIP Centre

       

      Employment and Support Allowance

      All Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) appointments at assessment centres have been postponed. To claim ESA contact the ESA Centre

       

      In Work

      If you have to stay at home because of coronavirus and you need a note for your employer contact NHS 111 Online(external link opens in a new window / tab)

      If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note.  You can also use this service for someone else. 

      If you are in work and not claiming benefits, work on a short term contract or a zero hours contract, you may be entitled to sick pay.

      Check your eligibility for statutory sick pay

      If you are not eligible to receive sick pay you can apply for Universal Credit and/or New Style Employment & Support Allowance.

      Anyone self-isolating who is self-employed can apply for Universal Credit or new-style Employment & Support Allowance. You can also apply for these if you are prevented from working because of a risk to public health.

      The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event and can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this. Below are some useful links and resources. 

       

      The Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is a scheme which allow employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic, details can be found at www.gov.ie/en/service/578596-covid-19-wage-subsidy/

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