Latest COVID updates

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COVID-19 timeline

Take a look back at key announcements from the past two years here.

Latest public health advice

Take a look at the latest advice from the government here.

 

Returning to work:

The HSA has produced a COVID-19 Response Plan template and Good Practice checklists available here. They have been prepared to help employers, business owners and managers to continue running their workplaces safely, and to help workers, in particular the Lead Worker Representative understand what they need to do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The template and checklists have been drafted, based on the Government’s advice and the Transitional Protocol – Good Practice Guidance for Continuing to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19


The Transitional Protocol, setting out best practice to help employers and their employees return to work safely, was published today. Find out more here


A refreshed Work Safely Protocol has been published to reflect recent changes in Public Health advice, view here. 


The Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) published an updated Guidance note on 20th October designed to assist employers and workers to plan for the phased return to the workplace. A technical update of the Work Safely Protocol has been prepared with some minor changes to reflect both the most up-to-date Public Health advice as well as the LEEF Guidance note. This updated Protocol remains applicable to all sectors of the economy. It sets out the minimum Public Health infection prevention and control measures required in every place of work to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 following temporary closures and in the ongoing safe operation of workplaces.


As workplaces begin to open up, employers are implementing Their COVID–19 response plans, and ensuring compliance with the National Return to Work Safely Protocols as well as compliance with the Safety Health and Welfare at work act 2005. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the Government agency charged with primary responsibility to ensure employers are complaint with both of these, and has been inspecting workplaces to ensure employers are providing a safe place of work in light of COVID–19.ISME have a full guide to preparing for a workplace inspections that includes possible questions that will be asked and areas that may be looked at. View or Download the guide here


 

Staffing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enhanced Illness Benefit for COVID-19. If you are working, you can apply for an Enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week if:

  • you are told to self-isolate or restrict your movements by a doctor, in line with public health guidance, due to being a probable source of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) infection and are symptomatic

or

  • you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a doctor or through a positive RT-PCR / antigen test

All eligible employees and self-employed people (other than public sector employees), including non-nationals and people living in Direct Provision, can get this payment. Please note: From 28 February 2022, symptomatic people who are required to self isolate, in accordance with HSE Public Health guidelines will require an electronic or paper Certificate of Incapacity for Work from a GP to apply for the payment.


ISME’s Employee Wellbeing during COVID-19 Guide looks at a number of areas of wellbeing an employer can use to supports staff available here and information on ISME’s Wellness Programme can be found here. 


 

Redundancy:

The Redundancy Payments (Amendment) Bill, which gives employees who have lost out on reckonable service while they were on lay-off due to COVID-19 restrictions, and have subsequently been made redundant, a special payment of up to a maximum payment of €1860 tax-free to bridge the gap in their redundancy entitlements. Find out more here


Update on payments awarded for COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Enhanced Illness Benefit is available here


In the unfortunate cases where staff will need to be let go, ISME HR has a number of resources for you in the Members Area such as templates for:

  • Redundancy Letter – At Risk
  • Template Letter for Redundancy and payment
  • Lay Off Notification
  • Short Time Notification
  • Collective Redundancy
  • Protective Notice

You can access these here


ISME have FAQs on the scheme available for Members here. 


 

 

Financial Support:

Under the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), you can get a flat-rate subsidy per employee, if your turnover has fallen by 30%. The EWSS has been extended until 30 April 2022 for most businesses, with a graduated step-down in subsidy rates from February 2022. Some businesses directly impacted by the public health restrictions introduced in December 2021, will continue to receive the enhanced rates of subsidy for February. The graduated step-down in subsidy rates will be delayed by one month and supports will continue until 31 May 2022.


A new COVID-19 Deferred Payment arrangement was announced under the Economic Recovery Plan for Ireland. Businesses with verified financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 emergency measures will get support as they deal with potential additional statutory redundancy costs.


The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme provides loans from €10,000 and €1 million for terms up to five and a half years. The size of the loan is linked to business turnover (25% of 2019 turnover) or wage costs (double annual wage bill in 2019).The Scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders. The Scheme is due to remain in place until 30 June 2022.


COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland (MFI). There are no repayments for the first 6 months and the equivalent 12 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loan terms are typically up to 3 years and there are no fees or charges. The loan is open to sole traders, partnerships and limited companies with fewer than 10 full-time employees and annual turnover of up to €2 million. You can apply through the MFI website or through your Local Enterprise Office.


If you were getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance and are reopening your business, you may qualify for the Enterprise Support Grant. The grant, worth up to €1000, is aimed at sole traders who do not pay commercial rates and, therefore, do not qualify for the CRSS or similar restart grants. To apply, download the COVID-19 ESG 1 application form (pdf) and return it your local Intreo Centre.


You may be eligible for a Business Financial Planning Grant from Enterprise Ireland of up to €5,000 to help you develop a Business Sustainment Plan and to engage the services of an approved Financial Consultant. For more information and to apply contact Enterprise Ireland.


You can get up to date information on the COVID-19 supports and guidance for businesses and employers on gov.ie. DETE has set up an Enterprise Information Centre for information on the government supports available to businesses affected by COVID-19. Call 01 631 2002, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm or email: [email protected]


 

Staff outings / parties:

Read our updated guide on The Work Christmas Party and COVID considerations 2021 here.