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Virus-hit staff to get sick pay worth €305 a week

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Workers will get higher emergency sick pay worth €305 a week during the coronavirus outbreak.

State-funded Illness Benefit is set to rise by more than €100 a week as part of a €2.4bn package of temporary income supports as the number infected continues to rise.

The payment will increase by 50pc from its current level of €203 a week to €305.

It will be made to those advised to self-isolate for two weeks and those infected with the virus for as long as they are out of work, once their employers have stopped paying their wages.

All private sector workers and the self-employed affected by the virus will get the same payment. This is because there are no minimum number of PRSI contributions required. However, a medical cert will be necessary.

The measure is designed to support the country's private sector workforce of more than two million people. Many do not have workplace sick leave schemes and have to rely on State benefits.

There is no legal obligation on Irish employers to pay sick pay leading to fears that workers carrying the virus could turn up for work.

Crucially, under the Government plan a previous lead-in period of six days before Illness Benefit is paid will be waived.

This means the emergency payment will be made immediately once the necessary legislation is introduced.

Those who do not have a medical cert can apply for supplementary welfare allowance. This is normally means-tested, but will not be in cases related to the coronavirus.

It is unclear when the income support package will come into effect but emergency legislation is set to be brought before the Dáil on Thursday.

Irish Independent