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Covid-19

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

Please contact me here to make suggestions, corrections or with ideas. If you think anything is unclear or could be made clearer please contact me and I will take your comments on board. Any further information will be published on this page as I get it. I can also be contacted on 087 2570923. Help is free if you're stuck.

The Department has a Support Call Centre for information on the business supports available to those affected by COVID-19. It can be reached at infobusinesssupport@dbei.gov.ie or (01) 631 2002. You may have to wait but they can be very helpful.

At present the sections are (they are clickable):

Download the re-opening roadmap

The Restart Grant

The Rates Waiver

Tips for working from home

Stop the Spread

HSE's advices on all aspects of Covid-19

Protecting Personal Data When Working Remotely

Help for Employees

Help for Employers and Self-Employed

Bank Assistance

Insurance Claims

Stop the Spread

Useful Links

The Rate Rebate or the Restart Grant.

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This grant has to do with rates; specifically, the rates you paid in 2019.

In brief the following apply.

The Grant is a contribution towards the cost of reopening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019, with a minimum payment of €2,000 and a maximum payment of €10,000.

Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online to local authorities . Click on Galway County Council or on Roscommon County Council. For the latter, you will have to create an account. (That's good for other services too). I have no idea yet about closing dates.

The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety.

The Rates Waiver.

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Very little is known and there is very little detail published about this waiver.

It was announced with the Restart Grant. It aims to provide a three month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure and childcare sectors. These rates were previously deferred but are now permanently waived for a 3 month period beginning on 27 March for businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements. There is no sign of this waiver on the Galway or Roscommon council websites.

It seems to mean that there will be no rates charged for the period April 2020 (Strictly 27th March) to June 2020 inclusive. As it relates to impacted businesses only, It may have to be applied for but there is no indication of how to do this yet.

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

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

Activities deemed essential by the Government

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If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until 12 April 2020.

There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday 30 March for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.

In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity, for example in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.

The full list is here

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). Make sure you put in the correct bank account details. Post these forms to FREEPOST PO Box 12896, Dublin 1 or drop into your local Intreo Centre/Social Welfare Branch Office. 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 themselves 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.

There are two questions to ask; Am I eligible? and How do I process my payroll under the new system. Eligibility is defined in this document. General rules and detailed guidance are in this document. That latter document is constantly updated. It's not a simple scheme! It differs depending on previous Gross pay and operates differently in April than in March. Most payroll software has been updated to deal with the new scheme. Remember you must be able to prove that you as an employer are eligible. (A 25% drop-off). Revenue have a hot topics document which is here. It answers lots of questions.

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

Log on to ROS myEnquiries and select the category ‘Covid-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy’

Read the “Covid-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy Self-Declaration” and

press the ‘Submit’ button.

Employers must enter details of a refund bank account and must Log on to ROS and in ‘Manage bank accounts’, ‘Manage EFT’, enter the refund bank account that the refund is to be made to.

The 70% paid to the employee is not taxable through PAYE (i.e. now). However, It is taxable and Revenue will come after the employees for the tax on it closer to the end of the year. Revenue have clarified that any top-up (i.,e. the 30%) is a taxable deduction for an employer.

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 (doubled from €25,000)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

The above two groups 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

Shane Hastings excellent resource of free online services

HSE advice on protecting yourself

Essential Retail Outlets

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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