Q&A: What financial help is available during the coronavirus pandemic?

State offering a range of supports to those who have seen their work affected by crisis

Dublin’s Grafton Street is pictured almost empty as result of  retail and hospitality businesses  having had to close because of  the coronavirus pandemic. A series of State supports are in place for affected workers. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Dublin’s Grafton Street is pictured almost empty as result of retail and hospitality businesses having had to close because of the coronavirus pandemic. A series of State supports are in place for affected workers. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

What financial supports is the Government providing in this pandemic?

There are a range of emergency income supports available to people affected by the pandemic. It depends on the situation you are in, whether you are still employed or have lost your job, or whether you have to stay home to self-isolate or to care for someone who is sick with Covid-19.

What if I am still employed but my employer has lost business or had to close?

Your employer can avail of the Government’s temporary income support, known as the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, which is being run by the Revenue Commissioners.

How does that work?

If your employer can keep paying your full wage through this health crisis, then the Government says they should continue to do so. But if they cannot and they can show that at least 25 per cent of the business has been lost due to the pandemic, they can apply for the scheme. The aim of the scheme is to encourage employers to keep staff on their payrolls where possible.

How much would I get under this scheme?

You should get your full wage but to help an employer who cannot pay this, the State will cover up to 70 per cent of an employee’s take-home pay up to a maximum weekly tax-free payment of €410 per week, the equivalent of 70 per cent of a €38,000 annual salary. The State will provide subsidies on incomes up to €76,000, or twice average earnings, but it will be capped at a net €350 a week for incomes between €38,000 and €76,000. Under the scheme, employers are refunded by Revenue for the subsidies they pay to employees.

Which workers are eligible?

If employers have asked staff to stay at home and their business has been significantly affected by the pandemic, then they should use this scheme. The aim is to encourage employers and staff to stay connected ahead of the crisis ending.

What if an employer has to lay staff off?

The Government has set up an emergency payment scheme for people made unemployed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak called the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

How does this work?

Successful applicants will receive a payment of €350 a week, which is equal to the standard jobseeker unemployment benefit for a two-adult household.To receive the Covid-19 unemployment payment, you have to be aged between 18 and 66, resident in the State, be fully unemployed since March 13th as a consequence of the pandemic and not be in receipt of any income from your employer.

What if I am over 66 and have lost my job?

If you are over 66 and are an employee, you are eligible for the State’s temporary wage support scheme. People in receipt of the non-contributory or means-tested pension, and are in receipt of an income from working, can have their pension payment increased if they lose a job or have their employment income reduced.

What if I am sick and am told to stay home by a doctor or the HSE and cannot do my job?

Where a worker is told to self-isolate, the individual can apply for an enhanced illness benefit payment, which amounts to €350 per week. This also applies to self-employed people. The person should ask their GP to submit a medical certificate on their behalf to avail of this.

A person who is self-isolating will be paid for a maximum period of two weeks and must remain confined to their home or a medical facility during the period of self-isolation. If the person has dependents they will receive additional payments to cover them.

What if I have to stay home with a relative who is sick with Covid-19?

Employers can agree compassionate leave arrangements with staff but some of these individuals may be able to avail of the Government’s emergency Covid-19 unemployment payments, according to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Where it is not possible to agree compassionate leave arrangements with an employer, employees can seek other statutory entitlements such as “force majeure leave” of three days in a 12-month period, parental leave of up to 22 weeks, or carers’ leave of least 13 weeks to a maximum of 104 weeks.