Employment issues during Covid-19

These unprecedented times have led to significant changes in working conditions, with many businesses having no option other than to consider lay-off and short-time.

Lay-off

Lay-off involves the temporary cessation of employment. Employers should be aware that there is no automatic right to lay-off staff without pay, unless it is specifically set out in the Contract of Employment or Staff Handbook, or unless it can be established that it is custom and practice within the organisation. In practice, employees are inclined to accept lay-off without pay in the hope of avoiding a redundancy situation. Best practice suggests that lay-off notice is served in writing via Form RP9 available from the Workplace Relations Commission, and the employee should be given as much as notice as possible.

Short-time

Short-time involves a shortage of work whereby the employee’s weekly pay is less than half of their normal weekly pay, or the employee is working less than half the normal contracted weekly hours. Again, this is a situation which is reasonably believed by the employer to be temporary. As with lay-off, it is important that the Contract of Employment specifies that employees are paid for hours actually worked while on short-time, unless a customary practice has been established in the industry or organisation. In a situation where an employee is faced with a choice between reduced pay for short-time, and a redundancy situation, it is likely that they will agree to the short-time option.

During lay-off or short-time the employee is still employed, and the Contract of Employment remains in force. The employee is entitled to the benefit of any public holidays occurring during the first 13 weeks of lay-off, and while they do not accrue annual leave during lay-off, they are entitled to take annual leave accrued before being laid off.

Changes to redundancy rules during Covid-19

Under normal circumstances, if an employee is laid off or put on short-time hours, they can claim redundancy from their employer after 4 or more consecutive weeks, (or 6 weeks in the preceding 13 weeks). The emergency measures in the Public Interest (Covid 19) Bill provides that an employee is not able to claim redundancy during the emergency period, if they were laid off or put on short-time work as a result of the Covid 19  pandemic. The emergency period set out in legislation is 13th March 2020 to 31st May 2020, which may be extended.

Social Welfare Entitlements on lay-off and short-time

Employees who are laid-off temporarily as a result of the Covid 19 crisis can apply for Jobseekers Payment at www.mywelfare.ie. Employees who are put on short-time working hours by their employer due to a reduction in business activity related to Covid 19 may apply for a short-time work support payment which application may be made in person at an Intreo Centre. If your employer is able to continue to pay the employee under the temporary Covid 19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, the employee does not need to apply for a Social Welfare payment. If the employer cannot pay for this period, the special Covid 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available at a flat rate payment of €350.00. This payment is for employees and self-employed people living in Ireland who have lost all their employment due to the Covid 19 public health emergency.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss you can contact us by telephoning 0659051009 or by emailing ccomerford@mcmahonwilliams.ie.

Residential Development Refund Stamp Duty Scheme

If you built your house on a single site within the past 4 years, you may be entitled to a refund of part of the stamp duty that you paid in respect of the value of the site.

Section 83D of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act, 1999 provides for this refund.   For the relief to apply the site transferred to you or purchased must be less than or equal to one acre.

The maximum amount that you can claim is 11/15ths if you paid stamp duty at the rate of 7.5% and 2/3rds if you paid stamp duty at the rate of 6%.

There are of course some conditions that you will have to satisfy and these are as follows;

  • The Deed, transferring the site to you must have been stamped at the time that the site was transferred to or purchased by you.
  • You must have commenced building on the site within 30 months of the date of the transfer to you.
  • You must complete a declaration confirming the following;1. The transfer deed has been stamped.
    2. The area of the site.
    3. The date on which the works were commenced.

The Declaration together with a copy of the Transfer Deed and a copy of the email from the Local Authority acknowledging that the Commencement Notice is valid must be submitted to the Revenue by uploading same to the Revenue website.

The refund must be claimed within 4 years of when the Local Authority acknowledges receipt of the Commencement Notice and the building works must be completed within 2 years of the local Authority acknowledging the commencement notice as valid.

Further information is available on the Revenue website:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/property/stamp-duty/claiming-a-stamp-duty-refund/residential-development-refund-scheme/index.aspx

Sinéad Kenny
Partner, McMahon & Williams Solicitors

065 -9051009
skenny@mcmahonwilliams.ie