COVID-19 & Entitlement to Social Welfare Payments

COVID-19 & Entitlement to Social Welfare Payments

1 People with no work or reduced hours

If your employer decides to close their business for this period and send you home. This is known as 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) and post the completed 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.

2 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 Benefitrate 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 Allowancewill 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.

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.

3 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.

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