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The complete guide to social welfare payments and tax reliefs during the coronavirus outbreak

by Edaein OConnell
20th Mar 2020

Not sure what your social welfare entitlements are due to coronavirus? Here we give a full run-down on all that is available to you

With the current pandemic there are thousands out of work due to illness, lay-offs and a general economic downturn, but what are your welfare entitlements?

Here we give a full run-down on illness benefit, tax relief and payments available to those out of work or on reduced hours.

E-worker tax relief

Thousands of employees are currently working from home, but many will not know of the tax relief available to them. More than 100,000 people in Ireland already worked from home prior to the outbreak and Revenue had made provisions allowing these workers to be reimbursed for expenses. These include heating, electricity and broadband expenses.

Employers can pay €3.20 a day to employees to cover these expenses but they are not obliged to do so. However, employees can still claim once supported with receipts and a letter from your employer stating that you do work from home.

Find out more here.

Those without work

If your employer has decided to lay off staff temporarily due to the virus, you can apply for a special new Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This payment is also available to those who are self-employed.

People getting Working Family Payment and students who have lost employment can also apply. There is only one application form to be filled out. For a period of six weeks, a flat rate payment of €203 will be paid per week for jobseekers. You can read the full document here. It is advised to send the form by post and not to go to the local Intreo office.

Reduced hours

If your employer has reduced your hours, you can apply for a Covid-19 Pandemic payment. If your hours have been reduced to 3 days or less per week, the Short Time Work Support (which is a form of Jobseeker’s Benefit) is available to you. Your entitlement will depend on the number of social insurance contributions you have.

Find out more here.

People who are sick and unable to work

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the rules for illness benefit and supplementary welfare allowance are being changed to help prevent further spread. This means if you contract the virus, you are required to self-isolate and are entitled to income support.

These changes mean you do not have to wait six days to apply for illness benefit meaning it will now cover the first week of illness (or medically-required self-isolation) from Covid-19 and the period following. The rate will also increase from €203 to €305 for the first two weeks if you have to medically self-isolate or for the duration of the Covid-19 illness.

The normal social insurance requirements will also be waived during this period.

People who cannot work because they have to look after children

There are no specific payments in place for this situation. The government has asked employers to be as flexible as possible in such situations. Options such as compassionate leave and flexible hours are recommended.

People currently on social welfare payments

If your income is currently social welfare payments and you contract the illness or have to self-isolate, you will continue to get social welfare payments. You do not need to apply for illness benefit. This also applies to those on Community Employment, Tús and Rural Social Scheme or a funded training and education programs.

If your income is a mix of employment and social welfare payments and you contract the illness or must self-isolate you can apply for an enhanced illness benefit if your employer will not pay it.

If you lose your job or your hours are reduced and your income was a mix of employment and welfare payments, you cannot apply for new Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment unless you are getting a working family payment.

You can find all the relevant information here. 

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