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What are my rights to sick pay during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

With the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Ireland, you might find yourself having to take time off work. During this time, it is important to know your rights to sick pay if you cannot work due to COVID-19.

If you are concerned or want to ensure you receive what you are entitled to, get in touch with us today.

In this guide, we will cover some of the most pressing questions for employees during this pandemic:

Will I receive sick pay if I am self-isolating?

Under the current government guidelines, employees who follow the advice to stay at home and self-isolate by the HSE will be entitled to an enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350.00 per week from the government if they cannot work, if they are a possible source of infection or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a doctor. Your employer is not under an obligation to pay you for sick leave, unless this is specified in your contract.

To be eligible for this payment a person must be confined to their home or a medical facility.

Illness Benefit will be paid for a maximum of two weeks to a person who is self-isolating due to being a possible source of infection.

Illness Benefit will be paid for a maximum of ten weeks if a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

How much is the new rate of enhanced Illness Benefit?

The personal rate of Illness Benefit prior to the pandemic was €203.00 per week and this remains the rate for non COVID 19 related illnesses. The rate was increased to €305.00 for COVID 19 related illness and again on 24th March to €350.00 to match the COVID-19 unemployment payment. Anyone in receipt of either of the lesser rates will receive a top up of the difference as the backlog is worked through.

If you are unable to work due to illness which is not COVID 19 related, the you are entitled to the lesser rate of €203.00 per week where you qualify for illness benefit.

Does an absence from work due to coronavirus need to be certified?

If you have been advised by the HSE to self-isolate due to being a possible source of infection you will have received a text or letter from the HSE. You can submit this with your application form and you do NOT need a medical certificate.

However, if you have been told to self-isolate by your doctor or diagnosed with COVID-19 by your doctor, he/she will complete a medical certificate and will send it to the Department dealing with your application directly.

If you are returning from abroad and following HSE self-isolation advice, and if your employer is not paying you for that absence, you can ask your g.p. to complete a medical certificate and submit it to apply for illness benefit.

If you require two successive periods of self-isolation, you must submit two separate claims and a further medical certificate will be required for the second application.

Employees should follow their employer’s standard procedure for reporting sickness and obtaining a certificate from your doctor for your employer. If you are not clear on what that procedure is, you should ask your employer for a copy of the policy and procedure dealing with this.

For employers – employers should use their discretion and be flexible when requesting medical certification even if tis in line with their own procedures. If an employee is self-isolating or very ill, it is more than likely that we will not be able to obtain certification straight away.

If I am self-isolating, when will I start receiving sick pay and how much will I receive?

If you have been advised to self-isolate by the HSE or your doctor you will receive the sum of €350.00 per week for a maximum of two weeks. You can apply online to speed the process up and to receive your payment quickly. The backlog has now been worked through and payment are being made promptly.

What about contractual sick pay – will I still receive this if I am off sick due to coronavirus?

Checking your employment contract

Your contract of employment should detail:

  • How much sick pay will be paid, if any
  • How long you will get sick pay for
  • Any specific rules your employer has for claiming sick pay

If your employer does pay more than Illness Benefit, it’s known as ‘company’, ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay.

What happens if my employment contract doesn’t mention sick pay?

If your contract of employment doesn’t mention sick pay, then this doesn’t mean you are not entitled to any. While your contract might give you more, your employer cannot pay less than the Illness benefit amount.

I am self- employed – am I entitled to receive enhanced illness benefit?

Yes, self-employed people are entitled to receive the enhanced rate of illness benefit for COVID related self-isolation or illness as set out above for employees.

For non COVID-19 related illnesses, the lower rate of €203.00 can be claimed by self-employed individuals.

Contact our Employment Lawyers in Donegal

For further advice on your sickness rights and coronavirus, and the possibility of a free consultation, please contact our employment lawyers at Boyce Kelly Solicitors LLP today. You can call us on 074 9890190 or complete our online enquiry form and we will be back in touch.

This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice you should contact one of our lawyers who can advise you based on your own circumstances.

Please note this information is accurate as of 1 May 2020 and is subject to change as official guidance is adapted to reflect the implications of the virus.

Employment Law What are my rights to sick pay during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?