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Responses to Covid-19

Some advice for those impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Please contact me here to make suggestions, corrections or with ideas. Any further information will be published on this page as I get it. I can also be contacted on 087 2570923

At present the sections are (they are clickable):

Tips for working from home

Stop the Spread

Protecting Personal Data When Working Remotely

Employees

Employers and Self-Employed

Bank Assistance

Insurance Claims

Stop the Spread

Useful Links

Tips for working from home

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Have a dedicated work space

This is an area which can regularly be used for this purpose: an area that allows you to concentrate without interruption - has a suitable working surface, chair and good light. If using a laptop, consider a laptop stand, a separate keyboard and a mouse. Light is very important.

Set ground-rules

Set ground-rules with those sharing your house about when they can interrupt you -particularly children. . Children can often help you as they seem to be unafraid of the technology. Make sure friends who would not think of interrupting you during working hours - if you were in your work office – apply the same rules when you’re working at home.

Get the technology right

Be sure your broadband speed is ‘up-to-it’ – and that whoever is responsible for the ‘security’ aspects of your technology at work, is sufficiently happy with the arrangements in place when you are working at home. And use a screen-cam and a headset with good earphones and an attached microphone – for interaction with your colleagues and/or clients.

Tools and equipment

Have you a Stapler, Sellotape, Pens, Paper etc? You may not have everything you need. Can you get it from the office? Now may a time to set up your Home Office with your own gear.

Agree clear communication protocols

Agree clear communication protocols with your team for this remote interaction. When to use emails? When to use a group message via the like of Whatsapp. Whatsapp can be used on your computer as well. Click here to see how to download it. When to use telephone and when to use video call? What about Zoom? When will there be team up-dates, how frequently - and using which media?

Be clear

Be clear how responsibilities, priorities and timetables will be agreed, updated and communicated and how progress will be reported (if the system does not automatically reflect that)

Work the same hours as you would at the office

You have had a routine that’s worked for you for a long time – stick with it. Just enjoy avoiding the need to journey to and from your workplace - and the time-saved in the process. Some suggest it can be helpful (if you are not self-isolating) to create a morning routine / get out of your house for a short walk - before you start working.

Take regular breaks throughout the day

It’s important to have a routine when you are working from home - but it’s also important not to stay ‘glued’ to your screen all day. You need to get up and move around just as you would in your normal working environment. Some research suggests that short breaks taken throughout the day are more beneficial than longer, less frequent ones. (Some recommend the Pomodoro Technique).Breaks are essential .

Dress for work

“Don’t stay in your pajamas all day”. Most articles emphasise the importance of ‘dressing for work’. Apart from psychologically getting you into the right mind-set for work – it can save a bit of embarrassment if there’s an unexpected video-chat with your team or a team member.

(Thanks to Leonard Brown)

Protecting Personal Data When Working Remotely

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Measures to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 will involve more people working remotely than usual. Below are some tips to keep personal data safe when working away from the office. For more information you can consult the Data Protection Commissioner's guidance on data security.

Devices

Emails

Cloud and Network Access

Paper Records

Stop the Spread

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1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

2. Stop touching your face, eyes, mouth, and nose. Ask someone to tell you when you do.

3. Avoid contact with people who are vulnerable. If you can’t avoid contact, wear a mask.

4. Cover your cough with the bend of your elbow.

5. Disinfect surfaces you regularly use.

6. If you feel unwell, stay at home and call your doctor. I's free.

7. Only share information from trusted sources. False information causes major problems even if it is well intentioned. In general, if it says pass it on -Don't!

8. Look Here

Employees

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If a person is laid off due to the Pandemic, it will be a full time or a part-time (like a three day week) lay-off.. There is an additional form for the latter.

The emergency form (Download it here) goes in first followed by the form UP1(Download it here) and (if on a three day week or short-time) the form UP14 (Download it here) I know a person who submitted both the forms and received money into their bank account approximately one week later. There was no acknowledgement or further communication. Form UP1 is not for self-employed people. See the Employers Section below..

It is officially called the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and is a payment of €350 per week. It is available to all employees who have lost their job due to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment will be in place for the duration of the crisis.

If you have one adult and one or more dependant children you should claim a Jobseeker's Payment instead of the COVID-19 Pandemic Payment. (You will get more).

Normally, if you have been temporarily placed on a short time, you may qualify for Short Time Work Support. which is a form of Jobseeker's Benefit and is an income support payment if you have been temporarily placed on a shorter working week. i do not know how this will change during the pandemic.

Also See here.

Usually, the payment is made in respect of your regular salary for the days that you are no longer working. For example, if your working week has been reduced from a 5 day work pattern to a 3 day work pattern, you can receive support for the other 2 days. Details are here

If you are sick with the virus or told to self isolate (i.e. medically certified to self-isolate) as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences which is higher than the standard rate of disability. You can apply for this whether you are an employee or are self-employed.

CItizens information page with respect to the payment is here

Ballinasloe Credit Union is here
AIB's help for personal customers is here. If you need details of help with AIB mortgages go here.
Bank of Ireland's help for personal customers is here. If you need details of help with Bank of Ireland mortgages go here.
Ulster Bank's Help page is here.

Employers

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Government information is available here.

Note that the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week is available not just to all employees but also the self-employed who have lost their job due to the pandemic, See above concerning employees. Also See here. Note that the form UP1 above is not to be used if you are self employed, use the form UP1SE instead. Download it here.

if you are sick with the virus or told to self isolate (i.e. medically certified to self-isolate) as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences which is higher than the standard rate. You can apply for this whether you are an employee or if you are self-employed.

If an employer theselves has to cease then they are entitled to the same payment as is mentioned above.

There is a government incentive to continue to pay your employees. So if you are an employer who can show that you have lost at least 25 percent of your trade - you will be able to claim 70 percent of your employees net wage back (up to a maximum of €410) through the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. It is a scheme which allow employers to pay their employees during the current pandemic. Employers will be refunded up to 70 percent of an employee's wages - up to a level of €410. Note that this is net wages! -not Gross. As an estimate, it should be sufficient to cover gross wages of about 820 per week and lower. You will still be paying the 30% but you will still have your employees.

The scheme is confined to employees, who are on the employer’s payroll records as at 29 February 2020, for whom a payroll submission has already been made by the employer to Revenue in the period from 1 February 2020 to 15 March 2020. The employee must not have made a claim for a similar payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Employers, or their agents (usually their accountants), apply to Revenue to operate the scheme by carrying out the following steps:

The employer is expected to make their best efforts to maintain as close to 100% of normal income as possible for the subsidised period.

(Note that this payment replaces the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's Employer Refund Scheme announced on 15th March, and any business that received refunds under the current scheme do not need to reapply. Revenue will contact them directly to confirm that they meet the conditions for this new scheme.All employers who have applied to the older COVID-19 Employer Refund Scheme will be automatically transferred onto the new, higher payment.).

The Local Enterprise office has a business continuity voucher worth up to €2500 to allow business to hire third parties to help them to continue to trade and deal with the short and long term issues caused by the Pandemic. The application form is here.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Eligibility criteria apply. Credit Guarantee Scheme COVID-19 FAQs are here

Microenterprises can access COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000 from MicroFinance Ireland. The terms include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 6.8% and 7.8%. Businesses can apply through their Local Enterprise Office or directly at microfinanceireland.ie. Eligibility criteria apply. Microfinance Ireland COVID-19 Business Loan FAQs are here

The €200m SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at sbci.gov.ie. Eligibility criteria apply. SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme FAQs are here.

A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme is available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.

If you are self-employed, you can still apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

AIB's help page is here.

Bank of Ireland's help page is here.

Ulster Bank's Help page is here.

Ballinasloe Credit Union is here

Banking

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Ballinasloe Credit Union is here

AIB's help for personal customers is here. If you need details of help with AIB mortgages go here.

Bank of Ireland's help for personal customers is here. If you need details of help with Bank of Ireland mortgages go here.

Ulster Bank's Help page is here.

AIB's help page for business is here.

Bank of Ireland's help page for business is here.

Ulster Bank's Help page is here.

The SBCI subsidy page is here. This a a scheme to fund the banks to fund business. The loans will be available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Approval of loans are subject to the banks own credit policies and procedures. It should be noted that businesses cannot complete a loan application until they have received their eligibility letter from the SBCI. The first step is to apply via that link to ensure your qualify for the scheme. You will get a qualification code which the Bank will need in order to progress a credit application.

Insurance Payments

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This relates to claims made under loss of profits clauses. I understand Insurance companies are beginning to consider these. I recommend you use a loss assessor to make the claim as poorly made claims are unlikely to succeed.. Contact Paul Flynn at Rosgal to handle it as he is local and is in business himself.

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Grow Remote

The Pulse Club

both the above gave an excellent joint presentation on remote working. Click here to find it..

Revenues page on remote working. This details daily payments free of tax for remote workers.

Best Government page on these wages/business related issues

Here is the HSE's main page on Covid-19

If there's anything you disagree with or think has been overlooked or that could be clearer or is just plain wrong, I would welcome you letting me know. I'm happy to correct it or change it. I am also happy to put up helpful links for anyone who suggests them.

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