Covid-19 response: Self-employed can avail of increased illness benefit

Self-employed workers – including farmers – will be entitled to receive either illness benefit or non-means tested supplementary welfare allowance under a new package of reforms agreed by Government as part of its response to the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Under the package, farmers can avail of either an increased illness benefit of €305/week if hit with the coronavirus, or a supplementary welfare allowance.

Following a meeting of the special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 yesterday, Monday, March 10, the Government has decided on the next phase of Ireland’s response to the issue.

In addition to the health measures agreed, the Government noted that a package of reforms was agreed for sick pay, illness benefit and supplementary benefit that is designed to ensure that employees and the self-employed can abide by medical advice to self-isolate where appropriate.

This is estimated to cost up to €2.4 billion, according to the Government.

The key elements of the income support measure include:
  • Waiving the requirement for six waiting days for sick pay in respect of medically certified cases of self-isolation in accordance with public health guidelines;
  • The removal of the means test requirement for Supplementary Welfare Allowance in respect of medically certified cases of self-isolation;
  • To contain the transmission of Covid-19, the personal rate of Illness Benefit will be increased from €203/week to €305/week for a maximum period of two weeks of medically certified self-isolation, or for the duration of a person’s medically-certified absence from work due to Covid-19 diagnoses;
  • Self-employed people will be entitled to receive either illness benefit or non-means tested supplementary welfare allowance.

Under the supplementary welfare allowance, the maximum personal rate of allowance stands at €201/week for those aged 25 and over, or aged 18-24 and living independently.

Those aged 18-24 and not living independently are eligible for €112.70/week.

In addition, economic stimulus measures and additional actions for business were also agreed; the health and social welfare actions, the Government says, represent “a significant protection for workers and businesses, and represent a total stimulus to the economy of an estimated €3 billion”.

These will include the provision of a €200 million liquidity support fund for impacted firms among other measures.