If your workplace remains open during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, but you cannot work from home, you do not want to risk going to work, or public transport is shut down, there are financial supports that you are entitled to.
Employers are expected to be flexible during these uncertain times and if you feel your employer is not giving you what you are entitled to, there are services that can help. FLAC (The Free Legal Advice Service) offers some basic legal assistance for free and is currently available to contact via phone on Lo-Call 1890 350 250 or 01-8745690.
Employee Entitlements if you cannot go to work or work from home
Paid Annual Leave
You could ask your employer to allow you to take annual leave. It is often at your employer’s discretion when you take it, which means it is up to them, but there is a responsibility on an employer to recognise the need for the employee ‘to reconcile work and any family responsibilities’ when deciding on leave. This basically means that they have to take into consideration your family’s needs when giving you annual leave.
If you work full time you are entitled to a minimum of four weeks paid annual leave per year, but you may have additional entitlements in your contact and may have carried over unused annual leave from previous years that you can use now. You earn annual leave over the time you have worked so by the end of March you will have built up (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.
Your employer may make you take annual leave during this period. Normally, they should speak with employees one month prior to requiring this. However, in the current circumstances if you don’t want to take your annual leave your employer may give you the option of taking unpaid leave instead of paid annual leave. You may cancel the annual leave if you become sick during it and go on sick leave instead.
If you do not attend work, but you do not want to take annual leave or you have no days left, your employer will be required to act reasonably in how they treat you. Your employer could decide there are exceptional circumstances to allow you not being able to come into the office and may decide to continue to pay you. Alternatively, your employer could withhold your pay as your absence is unauthorised.
Your employer may permit you to take general unpaid leave if you do not want to take paid annual leave to cover your absence. Whether or not they allow you to do this is up to them.
Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
This situation is completely new to everyone involved and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about what is going on. Following the Government’s instructions on how to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus, can help to make you feel more in control of your current situation.
If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You’re worth talking about and we’re here to listen and support you.