Covid-19 Construction Regulations

By nguadmin, Friday, 8th January 2021 | 0 comments

Dear Member

Construction

Construction will close from 6pm on Friday 8 January, with limited exceptions including:

essential health and related projects including those relevant to preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of COVID-19

social housing projects, including voids, designated as essential sites by Local Authorities based on set criteria

housing adaptation grants where the homeowner is agreeable to adaptions being undertaken in their home

repair, maintenance and construction of critical transport and utility infrastructure

education facilities sites designated as essential by Department of Education

supply and delivery of essential or emergency maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, oil, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) on an emergency call-out basis

certain large construction projects in the exporting / FDI sector based on set criteria

in relation to private homes that are practically complete and scheduled for habitation by 31 January 2021, including where snagging, and essential remediation work, such as pyrite works is nearing completion, works should continue to enable homeowners access their homes. Heating, water, broadband and electricity installation should also continue to enable homes be occupied.

existing tenancy protections mean that a tenant cannot be evicted from their home during the period of the 5km travel restrictions. To enable a limited functioning of the housing and residential tenancy market during this time it has also been agreed that online viewings will be the default approach to viewing property for rental or sale, with a physical viewing only permissible at the point where a tenancy agreement is being entered into or where a contract for sale has been drawn up. This approach balances the need to avoid social interaction with the need to provide a pathway to tenancy and home ownership for those who need it.

 

 

 

8 January

2021 TO ALL MEMBERS

COVID-19: INDUSTRY LOCKDOWN - JANUARY 2021

 

INCOME SUPPORT SCHEMES, ILLNESS BENEFIT SCHEMES & SUSPENSION OF s12 OF REDUNDANCY PAYMENTS ACT 1967

 

Dear Member

The government has announced that, other than essential services sites, the industry will close from 6pm on Friday, 8 th January 2021. It is intended that the shutdown will be for a period of 3 weeks.

 The industry returned to work on 18th May 2020 following the first lockdown in the industry. Since then, most employers put flexible working arrangements in place for those employees whose duties allow for such arrangements. Where work is available over the coming weeks, these arrangements can continue.

 Arrangements can include:

- Flexible working – working from home or other remote working arrangements where feasible and practical;

- Agreement to work back the hours/days lost;

- Taking annual leave;

- Unpaid leave e.g. Parental Leave where appropriate.

For other workers in the industry i.e. craftpersons, general operatives and apprentices, flexible working arrangements are generally not possible and, therefore, it may be necessary to place these workers on temporary lay-off.

 

Outlined below are the latest details on the following:

1. Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

2. Pandemic Unemployment Payment

3. Enhanced Illness Benefit

 4. Construction Workers Pension Scheme – Sick Pay

5. Suspension of section 12 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967

 

1.Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) provides supports to employers across all sectors who are negatively affected by COVID-19. The Scheme is available for employers who keep staff on their payroll during the pandemic. Employees could be:

 - Working full-time
 - On temporary lay-off, or
- On reduced hours or reduced pay (or both)

From 1 January 2021, to qualify for the EWSS, an employer must be able to demonstrate a projected decline of at least 30% in turnover or in customer orders in the period from 1 January – 30 June 2021 versus 1 January – 30 June 2019, and that this disruption was caused by COVID-19. Eligible employers will receive a flat-rate subsidy of up to €350 per week per qualifying employee from Revenue. In contrast to the previous Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, the EWSS has re-established the normal requirement to operate PAYE on all payments. This includes the regular deduction and remittance of income tax, USC and employee PRSI. However, a 0.5% rate of employer’s PRSI applies for employments that are eligible for the subsidy. The level of the EWSS subsidy payment will depend on the employee’s gross pay per week as follows:

Employee Gross Weekly Wages Subsidy Payable
less than €151.50                   No subsidy
€151.50 - €202.99                       €203
€203 - €299.99                       €250
€300 - €399.99                       €300
€400 - €1,462                       €350
Over €1,462                    No subsidy

Employers may top up wages in addition to the applicable subsidy outlined in the table above up to the normal gross weekly pay.

Qualifying employers are required to undertake a review on the last day of every month to ensure the business continues to meet the eligibility criteria. Employers who no longer qualify must de-register from the scheme with effect from the following day.

Registering with ROS for EWSS

To register for the EWSS, qualifying employers must:

 

- apply on ROS to be registered as an employer
- read and submit the on-line declaration to Revenue
- the employer must provide details of the employer’s bank account on ROS in the ‘Manage bank accounts’ and ‘Manage EFT’ fields
- the employer is, throughout the qualifying period, eligible for a tax clearance certificate

 

 A list of employers availing of the EWSS will be published on the Revenue’s website in January 2021 and April 2021.

The Scheme is due to close on 31st March 2021. This date, however, may be extended.

 Further information on the EWSS is available at Guidelines on the operation of the Employment Wag  https://www.revenue.ie/en/employing-people/documents/ewss/ewss-guidelines.pdf

See template letter at Appendix 1 for workers who are going to be placed on temporary layoff and paid a subsidy through the EWSS.

 

2. Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)

The PUP applies to workers who are placed on temporary lay-off, or whose employment has been terminated, due to COVID-19. The Scheme is also available to the self-employed. Affected workers can apply directly to the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection to receive the payment at www.mywelfare.ie.  Applications will be accepted up until 31st March 2021.

The rates of payment were last updated on 16th October 2020 and are as follows:

Weekly Earnings Prior to the Pandemic PUP Payment Applicable
Under €200                     €203
€200- €299.99                     €250
€300- 399.99                     €300
€400 or over                      €350

The above rates were due to be amended in February 2021. However, they may remain in place for a further period. We will keep you updated on developments.

See template letter at Appendix 2 for workers who are going to be placed on temporary layoff and encouraged to claim the PUP.

 

3. Enhanced Illness Benefit

The Enhanced Illness Benefit of €350 per week is applicable to workers who are medically diagnosed with COVID19, or medically certified by a Doctor or the HSE to self-isolate. It will be paid for a maximum of two weeks where a person is self-isolating but will be paid for the duration of a person's absence from work if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, up to a maximum of 10 weeks.

The payment is made from day 1 of absence.

 

 4. Construction Workers Pension Scheme – Sick Pay

In addition to the Enhanced Illness Benefit, workers who are registered with the Construction Workers Pension Scheme may be entitled to claim sick pay. The rules of the Scheme provide that workers who have at least 13 weeks of contributions in the previous 26 weeks will be entitled to sick pay. Eligible workers are entitled to sick pay for two weeks of medically certified self-isolation. For diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the general regulations of the sick pay scheme apply. Sick pay will be paid from the fourth day of absence for a maximum of 50 days per year and is paid at a rate of €44 per day. Further information is available at www.cwps.ie.

 

 

5. Suspension of s12 of Redundancy Payments Act 1967 to 31 March 2021

On 24 November 2020, the Government agreed to extend the suspension of section 12 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 until 31 March 2021. This means that workers on temporary lay-off up to 31 March 2021 are prevented from claiming a redundancy lump-sum payment by reason of being placed on temporary lay-off. When this suspension is lifted, workers who have been on lay-off for at least 4 weeks will be entitled to make a claim for redundancy where they have at least 2 years’ service. Employers will have the right to contest this payment and recall workers to work. All other redundancy provisions remain unchanged and in force such as the right to consultation, notice periods and the payment of a redundancy lump-sum where applicable.

 

We will keep you updated on developments.

 

If you have any queries in connection with the above, please contact the Industrial Relations & Employment Services Department at 01 406 6000. This circular will also be placed on the COVID-19 section of the Guild website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID -19 SHUTDOWN

CONTRACTUAL FACTORS FOR CONSIDERATION
 
JANUARY 2021

On foot of the recent order by Government to shut down parts of the construction sector, contractors may wish to:

 

a.  Familiarise themselves with the contractual provisions under which they are operating their      projects. An act/order of Government may be pertinent to the basis of a claim under the standard forms of contracts.

 

b. Make themselves aware of the notice provisions within their contracts to ensure that they do not become time-barred from making a claim; if they become aware of the potential for a delay or costs associated with the order by Government to shut down sites.

 

c. Review the tender documentation and contractual terms for projects, which were tendered when the pandemic was a known risk and what they may have been included for risk associated with COVID/Pandemics.

 

d. Request guidance and instructions from their Employers/Clients on the whether their particular site has been designated as an essential project and if it is to be closed.

 

e. Consider seeking a cooperation meeting with their Employers/Clients to assess how their site(s) should be secured and managed during the shutdown and to commence collaborative discussions on how best to mitigate against the impact of the Government shut down order on progress.

 

f. Engage with their supply chain on an order shutdown of sites and a planned approach to the future re-opening of construction.

 

The NGMC will be monitoring any further statements, clarifications, or guidance notes from the OGP and Government, that could provide more specific details and allow members to consider their position on both public and private contracts.

 

DISCLAIMER: The above supplied information is not intended to be comprehensive for every situation, it simply represents the options and factors that contractors should consider under the forms of contracts they are operating under. Please ensure you obtain legal advice specific to your contract before proceeding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX 1

TEMPLATE LETTER WHERE EMPLOYMENT WAGE SUBSIDY SCHEME APPLIES

 

(COMPANY LETTERHEAD)

 

(NAME)

(ADDRESS)

 

Delivered by (HAND / EMAIL / POST)

 

(DATE)

 

RE: Notice of Temporary Layoff - Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme

 

Dear (NAME),

 

Following the latest Government announcement on 6th January 2021, construction sites must now close from 6pm on Friday, 8th January 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We are, therefore, unable to continue working until the current restrictions are eased. In these difficult times, we wish to maintain continuity of employment. In order to do that, we have no option but to place you on temporary layoff. Therefore, I am writing to confirm that you will be placed on temporary layoff effective from (DATE).

During this period of temporary layoff, (COMPANY NAME) will process the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) through payroll directly to workers. The EWSS provides for a gross payment of up to €350 per week, depending on an individual worker’s gross weekly wage. This subsidy payment is subject to normal income tax, USC and PRSI which will be facilitated through payroll.

OPTIONAL: We will also endeavour to provide employees with an additional top-up payment of €AMOUNT per week. In total you will receive a (X%) of your normal gross pay. This will be processed from your first day of temporary layoff on (DATE), and any change to this will be communicated to you in advance.

You will be given as much notice as possible of a recall to work from this period of temporary layoff.

 

If you have any questions on the above, please contact me at (EMAIL / PHONE NUMBER).

 

Yours sincerely,

________________

(NAME)

(POSITION)

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX 2

TEMPLATE LETTER WHERE PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT PAYMENT APPLIES

 

(COMPANY LETTERHEAD)

 

(NAME)

(ADDRESS)

 

Delivered by (HAND / EMAIL / POST)

 

(DATE)

 

RE: Notice of Temporary Layoff - Pandemic Unemployment Payment

 

Dear (NAME),

 

Following the latest Government announcement on 6th January 2021 construction sites must now close from 6pm on Friday, 8th January 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are, therefore, unable to continue working until the current restrictions are eased. In these difficult times, we have no option but to place you on temporary layoff. Therefore, I am writing to confirm that you will be placed on temporary layoff effective from (DATE).

During this period of temporary layoff, you are entitled to claim the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). The quickest and easiest way to apply for the PUP is through mywelfare.ie or applications can be made by post to Freepost, PO Box 12896, Dublin 1.  To request a form and apply by post please email forms@welfare.ie.

If you were in receipt of any social welfare payment such as a Carer's Payment, Working Family Payment or One-Parent Family Payment while working, you can also claim the PUP in addition to retaining your existing welfare payment.

You may be entitled to a higher payment, for example if you have child and/or adult dependants. In such circumstances, you may be entitled to the standard jobseeker’s benefit. You can claim directly online at mywelfare.ie. 

You will be given as much notice as possible of a recall to work from this period of temporary layoff.

 

If you have any questions on the above, please contact me at (EMAIL / PHONE NUMBER).

 

Yours sincerely

__________________

 (NAME)

(POSITION)

 

 

 

For further information go to https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2dc71-level-5/#construction 

 

Yours sincerely

Pat Doyle