Coronavirus Update for Employers in Ireland
The Irish government announced a five phase plan to cautiously reopen society and business beginning May 18th. Private medical insurance rebates have also begun, as have extensions for group life and long-term disability.
Five phases to bring Ireland’s employees back into the workplace
Phase 1 – On May 18th remote working is to continue for all workers or businesses that can currently do so. A phased return of outdoor workers (for example: construction workers, gardeners, including people working on allotments) will be allowed. Social distancing requirements continue to apply.
Phase 2 – On June 8 workers, like those who work on their own, as well as other workers who can keep a 2 meter distance from others can return to work. Social distancing requirements continue to apply. Organizations are to develop plans for a return to onsite working by employees in light of COVID-19, considering:
- social distancing compliance
- hygiene and cleaning
- compliance in higher risk situations
- plans for medically vulnerable or pregnant people
- extended opening hours to enable social distancing
Phase 3 – On June 29 remote working is to continue for all workers or businesses that can currently do so. Organizations can open where employees have low levels of daily interaction with people and can work safely while maintaining a 2 meter distance from others.
Phase 4 – On July 20 remote working continues for all workers or businesses that can do so. Employees who cannot work remotely are to be considered first for a return to onsite working.
Depending on the business, measures such as shift work and staggered hours should be implemented to increase the numbers of workers available for work in any 24-hour period, as long as the business can limit the number of workers interacting with each other.
Phase 5 – On August 10 a phased return to work across all sectors begins, but remote working continues for all workers or businesses that can do so. ‘Higher risk’ organizations which, by their nature cannot easily maintain social distancing, will implement plans for how they can progress towards the onsite return of a full staff complement.
Private medical insurance rebates begin
The Irish government has temporarily ‘nationalized’ the Irish private medical hospital system and brought their resources under the control of the public service for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The three carriers operating in Ireland are compensating employers and members for the period of the effective Nationalization of the Private Hospital Network while dealing with COVID-19. Holders of Insurance can expect 35%-65% premium rebates for up to 3 months, while access to private facilities and personnel is impacted.
Group life and long-term disability extensions
Many employers are taking steps to furlough employees and Glennon is working with providers to secure short term extensions in Group Risk cover to ensure that employees remain on cover during their furlough. Carriers are approving this on a case by case basis for 3 and up to 6 months.
Financial Support for Employer and Employees
This government guide to the subsidies available to employers and employees who have been adversely affected by the pandemic is a good source of information. Employers can also see their government support options at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.
COVID-19 Key Information and Testing Resources
For employees the relevant sources for understanding symptoms and how to get tested are at the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive.
- There is a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people who had contact with a COVID-19 infected person.
- Insurers will not cover travel claims related to self-cancellation, but will cover cancellation to areas where the health authorities have advised people not to travel to, e.g. northern Italy.
- Companies generally are not covering sick pay for individuals who decide to self-isolate.
- COVID-19 updates – how the health service is responding to the global spread of coronavirus
- Department of Foreign Affairs– updated travel information and advice
- The Health Protection Surveillance Centre– information for health professionals
Asinta’s Irish Partner, Glennon, provided this coronavirus update for employers in Ireland.