Advice from Tom Smyth & Associates 

Update from Tom Smyth & Associates via Retail Excellence Ireland – 16th March 2020

This advisory note provides general advice which you may find helpful at this time.

Individual employment factors such as the contract of employment, workplace customs/precedents and whether there is a full closure or reduced roster will influence HR and Employment Law decision making. Please contact our office for customised advice at any time.

The Government has announced a new emergency payment for the employed and self-employed who are placed ‘off work’ during this time. It is a payment for 6 weeks, accessed via the ‘Covid Pandemic Unemployment Form’. Information and a download of this form are available via the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/service/be74d3-covid-19-pandemic-unemployment-payment/

Employees fill in this form and post it via Freepost to the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection (DEASP) for processing. Anything the employer can do to assist their team to do this swiftly would be beneficial as there are going to be mass lay-offs this week.

During this 6 week period, a full jobseeker benefit form must be completed (https://services.mywelfare.ie/) but for now this is a quickfire form designed for prompt processing to minimise delay in availing of this welfare payment.

https://www.gov.ie/en/news/965011-covid-19-introduction-of-simplified-unemployment-payments-for-employ/

Basic Roadmap for Layoffs:

  • Download an RP9 form. This is a form between you and your employee.
  • Prepare a cover letter along the lines of the sample attached.
  • Download the Covid Pandemic Unemployment Form (see link above). This is a form between your employee and the Dept of Social Protection (if you are not in a position to pay them at all).
  • If possible, provide an envelope for employees so they can fill in this form and promptly get it to the DEASP.
  • If you are remaining open, seek more detailed advice on ensuring that any roster reductions are made fairly to avoid unnecessary employees grievance or discrimination claims.

“Does ‘lay-off’ have to be in a Companys contract of employment or handbook?”

No, but it helps. If you have a lay-off clause you are invoking a contractual or workplace policy. If you do not have such a clause you need the agreement of the employee going on lay-off or they may have a successful payment of wages claim down the line if you do not pay them Then again, these are extremely challenging times and we hope that all employees realise the position employers are being placed in.

“Can I top up employee wages?”

In normal circumstance, when claiming jobseekers from the state, an employee cannot be paid by their employer also. That still appears to be the case now if employees apply to welfare for their €203 per week.

As on Monday 16th, 9am, the Minister has encouraged employers to pay employees on lay off and has a promised employers a rebate for €203 of this but there is no clarity on any rebate for further payments beyond this.

“What happens after this?”

The new government emergency payment is for 6 weeks only. Obviously we are in a time of crisis and each employer will have to follow Government advice on when they can re-open. We will update you when we can and are available to talk anytime on 021-4634154

TSA Team

T: 021- 4634154 W:  www.tsaconsultants.ie E: info@tsaconsultants.ie