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Please note the information below is based on government guidelines and information circulated on or before 27th of March 2020. It is not intended as, and should not be considered as legal advice. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland disclaims any legal responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided; MRCI is not a practicing law centre.
MRCI is a national charitable organisation working for justice, empowerment, and equality for migrants and their families. Our services are free, safe and confidential. We are an independent non-governmental organisation, and we do not represent or work for any government or state agency.

What are my rights if I am unable to continue work due to lack of childcare or other family issues?

 The Government has asked employers to be as flexible as possible in allowing staff time off to look after their children or other members of their families during Pandemic. Here are types of leave that might be available to you. Worth to note leaves are subject to employer’s discretionary approval.

Paid annual leave

If you have not used up your annual leave (paid holidays) entitlements, you could ask your employer to allow you to take your annual leave.

An employer has the discretion to approve or deny your request. However, they are obliged to take into consideration the need for the employee ‘to reconcile work and any family responsibilities’.

Generally, if you work full time, you are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks paid annual leave per year. If you work part-time or casual work, you are entitled to 8% of the hours worked in the leave year, subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks. Employees earn annual leave over the time they have worked so by the end of March you will have accrued (and should be able to take) at least one week of your annual entitlement for 2020.

Your employer may also let you take “future” annual leave now- subject to the employer’s discretion.

Paid force majeure leave

Force majeure leave arises where, for urgent family reasons, due to an injury or illness of a close family member, you are unable to attend work. Even though your current circumstances do not perfectly fit in the force majeure leave description, your employer has the discretion to grant it to you. A maximum of 5 days of force majeure leave is allowed over a 3 years period.

Unpaid parental leave

If you have children under the age of 12 you are entitled to take unpaid parental leave.

You must give your employer at least 6 weeks’ notice before taking parental leave; however, in the current circumstances, your employer has the discretion to waive it. Still up to the employer to decide to approve or deny your request.

You can take up to 22 weeks’ parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday if you have worked for your employer for at least 1 year. If you worked less than 1 year, you might get a reduced amount of parental leave, e.g. for 3-month service you might be entitled to 1-week parental leave

  • From 1 September 2019, you can take up to 22 weeks parental leave
  • From 1 September 2020, you can take up to 26 weeks parental leave

Unpaid leave

Your employer may have the discretion to permit you to take general unpaid leave if you do not want to take or does not have enough paid annual leave to cover your absence. There is no obligation on an employer to provide an unpaid leave

Can I claim redundancy if I was temporarily laid off from work or temporarily placed on short-time during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has passed the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020

This Act suspends, for the duration of this crisis, the entitlement of an employee to serve notice of redundancy to his/her employer where the employee has been laid off or kept on short-time due to Covid-19.

What are my rights if my place of work permanently closed down and my employment is terminated permanently?

Employers must follow certain procedures when making employees redundant.

For example, if your job was terminated/ you were dismissed because of redundancy (and you are NOT temporary lay-off or moved to short time due to COVID-19), you are entitled to minimum notice and potentially redundancy payment.

Your notice period depends on your continuous length of employment. However, your contract of employment could provide for longer notice.

Minimum Statutory Notice

Length of Service- Minimum Notice

  • Thirteen weeks to two years-One week
  • Two to five years-Two weeks
  • Five to ten years-Four weeks
  • Ten to fifteen years-Six weeks
  • More than fifteen years- Eight weeks

In relation to a redundancy payment, if you worked for at least 2 consecutive years with the same employer and paid tax, you are entitled to a minimum statutory redundancy of :

  • Two weeks’ pay for every year of
  • One further week’s pay

Payment is subject to a maximum earnings limit of €600 per week. 

However, your contract of employment could have bigger redundancy payment terms.

In relation to choosing employees for redundancy, the criteria should be objective. Under Employment Equality legislation, the selection must not discriminate against employees on any of the 9 grounds listed in the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011.

It is the employer’s responsibility to make the redundancy payment to eligible employees. If the employer is unable to pay, they may apply to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to make a payment on their behalf under the Redundancy Payments Scheme.

Again note, for the duration of this crisis, the entitlement of an employee to serve notice of redundancy to his/her employer where the employee has been laid off or kept on short-time due to Covid-19 is suspended.

What are my rights if I am unwilling to come to work due to potential health risks associated, but I am not medically certified?

Employers have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees. The Government is urging all employers to allow employees to work from home where possible and allow employees to take leaves if requested.

You are only entitled to claim social welfare payments if you lost your job, has been temporarily laid off or are sick or were requested by doctor to self-isolate. There is no entitlement to any social welfare payments if you personally chose to isolate without any medical recommendations and not as per your employer request.

If you are still in employment but refused to attend work, this could constitute an unauthorized absence, which may be dealt with via disciplinary action.

However, there might be an exception if you refused to come to work due to Health and Safety concerns. However, you are recommended to raise concerns first with the employer unless it’s clearly unsafe to continue to work.

See Disclaimer above.