Confirmation that people restricting movements have same access to Covid illness benefit as those self isolating

Senator Marie Sherlock
01 October 2020
  • Sherlock gets clarity on Covid support for those restricting movements

In the Seanad, Labour Spokesperson for Employment Affairs Senator Marie Sherlock was able to get clarity from the Government that people ordered to restrict their movements due to Covid-19 have an equal access to Covid Illness Benefit to those self-isolating.

Senator Sherlock said:

“On Wednesday in response to my question to the Minister of State, the Government confirmed that the state does not distinguish between people who are self-isolating and those who are restricting their movements because of being a close contact of a confirmed case, when it comes to claiming the Covid Illness Benefit. This means that people who cannot attend work due to any Covid-related reason should be confident in applying for financial support.

“This is a welcome clarification, but one which should not have been necessary this far into the pandemic. The Government’s communications on this issue have been vague and confusing, leaving many workers unclear as to whether they are eligible for the Covid Illness Benefit at all. This shortcoming was acknowledged  by Minister Mary Butler today.

“I have had numerous people contact me to say they are relying on annual leave or unpaid leave for the 14 day period in which they needed to restrict their movements because they were a close contact of a confirmed case. Many are terrified of using up all their holiday entitlements or being out of pocket if and when they may have to restrict their movements again. In all cases, they had no idea whether they could claim the Covid Illness Benefit.

“These were workers from across a number of sectors; health workers, retail workers and those in manufacturing. In particular, Mandate trade union highlighted to me the huge fears that low paid retail workers had of being forced to stay at home and restrict their movements for a full 14 days as per the Government guidelines, with no pay. 

“This information should have been communicated to workers, trade unions and the general public much more clearly from the very beginning. I very much urge the Government to initiate a communication campaign to inform workers of their full entitlements. This is vital in order to contain the spread of the virus and to support workers to meet Government regulations.”

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