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ICTU says employers should pay staff who are directed to self-isolate because of Covid-19

The organisation says there has been “considerable public debate” on the issue in recent days.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

THE IRISH CONGRESS of Trade Unions (ICTU) has called on employers to pay employees as normal if they are directed to self-isolate because of Covid-19.

ICTU General Secretary Patricia King has written to the Chief Executive of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) Danny McCoy amid growing concerns among workers.

The letter states: “In recent days there has been considerable public debate on the precise implications for workers who are affected in any way by the current Public Health requirements. It is our view that in circumstances where an employee contracts this virus the normal condition for sick leave applies.

“In cases of enforced absences i.e., where there is direction and/or medical advice for an employee to self-isolate, then normal pay should continue to be paid. This should also apply where an employee self-isolates in accordance with the up-to-date guidance of the HSE.”

The letter notes that, in relation to public servants, particularly those engaged in delivering emergency and health services, “precise arrangements will be as agreed through the normal Collective Bargaining procedures with the employer”.

It continues: “Where caring duties arise as a direct result of the COVID-19 Virus, and Public Health advice such absences should be regarded as ‘enforced absences’ as described above and should be remunerated accordingly.

“Other possible flexible working arrangements including ‘working from home’ should be the subject of discussion at local level.”

King adds that she has contacted the Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission and “requested that strong consideration be given to the development of a Statutory Code of Practice relating to these matters”, saying this “would provide clarity for all concerned and avoid different employer approaches to this serious matter”.

Advice

The Department of Social Protection yesterday issued advice for workers who are diagnosed with the Covid-19 coronavirus and those who may need to self-isolate as a precautionary measure.

The department said where an employee is diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus, normal workplace arrangements in respect of sick-absence should apply.

The employe should, subject to the latest advice from the HSE, be treated from a workplace perspective in the same manner as any member of staff who takes sick-leave for any other reason, the department said.

Employees diagnosed with Covid-19 can, as is the case of any other illness, apply for income support from the department in the form of illness benefit based on social insurance contributions or supplementary welfare allowance based on a means test.

An employee who is advised or directed by a registered medical practitioner to self-isolate on the basis that they are a probable source of Covid-19 infection can, if their employer ceases to pay their wages, apply for income support from the department.

A person who self-isolates in accordance with the up-to-date guidelines from the HSE but does not have a medical certificate from a medical practitioner, may apply for an income support in the form of supplementary welfare allowance.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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