Extension of Suspension of certain Redundancy Provisions & extension of COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, has today secured government approval to extend the suspension of redundancy provisions relating to temporary lay-off and short-time work, which arose as a result of COVID-19 until 17 September.

The Minister also secured approval to extend the duration of the COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit until 31 March.

Redundancy Provisions

The suspension of redundancy provisions, which relate to redundancy entitlements following temporary periods of lay-off and short-time work due to COVID-19, was introduced on 13 March under emergency measures as the then existing provisions were not considered adequate to deal with the COVID-19 emergency situation.

A suspension of these provisions was considered necessary to ensure the future viability of businesses and help prevent further permanent job losses.

Today, the Minister secured government approval to extend this suspension of redundancy provisions until 17 September.

Minister Humphreys today said: “An extension of the end-date is important for employees to ensure that they have a continued link to their job and a pathway to return. For employers, many still regard their businesses as being temporarily closed or they are operating well below their capacity.

“Many businesses plan to reopen as soon as it is possible for them to do so. The measures in the Jobs Stimulus package will assist employers manage the recovery of their businesses. Extending the end date further will help prevent redundancies that could occur in the very near future which would burden employers with further debt and have a serious impact on the potential for a business to recover. This measure is necessary to mitigate against the risk of insolvency and bankruptcy situations and further job losses. This further extension will contribute to the viability of business.

“For the workers affected, the focus for the department will be on supporting those who have been permanently laid off and who now need to look for new job opportunities. It is these individuals that the Department will support through a range of measures such as access to education and training courses, work experience opportunities and financial supports to start their own business with the goal of helping these individuals secure employment.”

It is important to note that the employee’s right to claim redundancy has not been removed, but deferred for the emergency period in circumstances of temporary lay-off or short-time employment.

COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced amendments to the Social Welfare legislation to provide for special arrangements including an enhanced rate of €350 for the Illness Benefit payment. This was done to ensure that people who have symptoms of COVID-19 do not feel under financial pressure to attend work.

The COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit scheme was due to cease after 10 August. Following today’s Government meeting, Minister Humphreys has secured government approval to extend the duration of this scheme until 31 March next year.

Minister Humphreys commented: “By extending the COVID-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit until 31 March, I want to reassure workers who contract COVID-19 or who are medically certified by their doctor or the HSE to self-isolate, that they can continue to apply for an enhanced Illness Benefit payment.

“The Enhanced Illness Benefit payment supports the public health advice’s goal of mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus by enabling employees and the self-employed to self-isolate when they have COVID-19 or may be suspected of having the virus.

“The 6 day ‘waiting period’ before Illness Benefit begins continues not to apply in respect of medically required cases of self-isolation or medically diagnosed cases of COVID-19. This is to ensure that eligible individuals receive their enhanced illness benefit payment as soon as possible.”