On 27 March 2020, the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020 was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.
On the employment law front, as well as the signing into law of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, a further key element of the Act is the changes arising to the Redundancy Payments legislation.
In normal circumstances, an employee can trigger a redundancy claim where they have been laid off or placed on short-time for a period of four or more consecutive weeks, or for a series of six weeks within a thirteen week period. The employer can counter this and would normally be able to indicate when the employee can return to full working. See previous article on Lay-off and Short-Time . However, due to the COVID-19 situation, it may not be possible for employers to determine when an employee may be able to return to work.
Thus, in the COVID-19 situation, the new Act provides that for the duration of a designated “emergency period”, employees on lay-off or short-time will not be able to claim a redundancy payment if the lay-off or short time is due to the effects of measures required to be taken by the employer to comply with, or as a consequence of, Government policy to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The emergency period for these changes is from 13 March 2020 and ending 31 May 2020. This period may be extended by Government.