Employers have been contacting ESA at a loss to do with employees who are refusing to return to work.

Employers were forced to send employees home at various stages of the Covid-10 pandemic and in most cases these employees came into receipt of the €350 Covid-19 payment. For some employees this was just enough to keep their households running, for some it wasn’t enough and for others it was more than they were used to.

We have been slowly starting to open the economy again and many businesses are cautiously dipping their toes back into opening. However, when they are contacting their employees, with either the same hours as they previously had or even less hours, they are being told: “Nah, you’re ok, it’s not worth my while to come in when I’m getting the Covid-19.”

Recently, a worried employer contacted us because an employee had said that he didn’t want to return for 9 hours a week as it wasn’t worth his while and he had contacted the Department of Social Welfare and been told that if he wasn’t getting the same hours he could continue on the Covid-19 payment. This is simply incorrect.

ESA contacted the Department and were told in clear language that if an employee is offered work and chooses not to take it for whatever reason that they are not entitled to the payment. This is how it works:

  1. Mary was on a 40 hour week and has been offered her 40 hour week back again. If Mary refuses to return to work, for whatever reason, then the employer can inform the Department and they will stop any Covid payments.
  2. Jim works a 35 hour week and has been asked to come back for 9 hours a week to start with. Jim tells his employer that it isn’t worth his while. [The employer would pay 9 hours and the Department would top up the balance.] The employer can inform the Department and they will stop any Covid payments.

We would always recommend that you make your position clear to the employee. Tell them that you will be obliged to notify the Department and that this could very well affect their payment. We can appreciate that, for some, being able to stay home and receive the Covid payment has maybe even been a bit of a break, time to spend time with their families and sometimes just necessary due to childcare restraints. That said, the Coivd-19 payments were not  and are not free money to offer people alternative lifestyles. It may not be fair, but we are obliged to continue to work as before as much as we can.

Employers should contact the Department directly on [email protected]

If ESA can help you with any of the above please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01 8774608 or [email protected]

Stay safe!