Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

Explainer: What the government's new income support plan means for workers who have to self-isolate

The new measures announced today will also apply to self-employed workers.

TODAY THE GOVERNMENT announced a number of support measures for both workers and businesses that may be impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Before today, there was a lack of clarity about how certain groups of workers would manage financially if they were advised by public health doctors to self-isolate.

In particular, there was concern that self-employed workers and those in precarious employment would not be entitled to any supports.

With the new measures announced today, the government said it has sought to ensure all workers can stay home for two weeks – if this is the advice from public health doctors.

It is estimated that these State payments to workers will cost €2.4 billion. 


Employment law specialist Richard Grogan had previously told before today’s announcement that workers who were told by the HSE to self-isolate were not guaranteed payment.

“If the HSE tells somebody to self-isolate, that is treated as the employee themselves saying ‘I’m not going to work’,” explained Grogan. 

However, if your employer asks you to self-isolate, they should (legally) keep paying you. 

In cases where an employer refuses to pay workers for HSE-advised self-isolation, or the company can not afford to keep paying a staff in self-isolation because it has to cease operations during that time, government supports will now kick in.

The means test for supplementary welfare allowance will be removed, cutting processing time and ensuring all workers are covered – this includes self-employed people. 

Before this announcement, welfare payments during self-isolation would have been dependent on PRSI contributions. 

The supplementary welfare allowance is €201 per week for those aged over 18 and living independently. 

The government will also provide €200 million liquidity support for impacted firms. 

If you feel sick

While some employees may have the capacity to work from home in self-isolation, ensuring they can maintain their full wage over the two weeks, this will not be an option for a lot of workers.  

Grogan said workers should check their sick leave entitlements in their contracts – most will have a subsection detailing how long you will be paid for. 

Before today’s announcement from the government, those who are not contractually entitled to sick pay would have to be sick for six days before they could start receiving the State illness benefit.

Today, the government confirmed it would waive the requirement for six waiting days in respect of medically certified self-isolation. This means payment will kick in from the first day off work.

The personal rate of illness benefit will be increased from €203 per week to €305 per week for a maximum of two weeks of self-isolation, or the duration of a person’s medically-certified absence from work due to a diagnosis. 

Again, this will apply to self-employed workers and others who would not normally have the PRSI contributions required. 

Got a question about Covid-19 and Ireland’s response to it? Send it to and we’ll do our best to answer it for you. 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel