Under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, both employers and employees have duties of care – this means that they need to make sure that no harm is caused to each other or any other person by their actions or omissions.
For employers, this includes things like providing facilities, information and instructions to ensure that employees are safe in their workplaces. For example, employers should ensure that employees know what to do if they are diagnosed with a contagious illness like coronavirus (COVID-19).
For employees, this means that they should not pose a threat to the health and welfare of others in their workplace. For example, they should not come to work if they have, or suspect they have, a contagious illness.
If employees need to stay at home because they are ill, they may be entitled to sick leave and pay – depending on the terms and conditions in their contract of employment. You should check the terms and conditions in your contract of employment to see if you get paid while on sick leave.
However, there is no statutory entitlement to be paid while you are on sick leave. You can read more about sick leave and sick pay.
Similarly, if you cannot attend work because of precautionary measures taken in line with advice from the HSE or the HPSC, you may not be entitled to pay.
The Workplace Relations Commission has recommended that employers should be as flexible as possible. If employees cannot come to work, employers should explore options such as:
- Working from home or other remote working arrangements
- Working from an alternative location
- Working back the hours or days lost
- Open days on a day where the business is normally closed
- Allowing employees to take annual leave
If you are not diagnosed with COVID-19, but you are advised or directed to self-isolate by a doctor you can apply for income support from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
If your employer asks you to stay at home as a precaution or puts you on a period of lay-off and does not continue to pay your wages, you can apply for income support in the form of a jobseeker payment or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
Where to get more information:
- There is a business continuity planning checklist on the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website for employers
- You can read a guidance note for employers and employees from workplacerelations.ie
- Employers and employees can get up to date information and guidance on COVID-19 from the HSE
- You can get the latest updates on COVID-19 from gov.ie