As As an immediate response to the Covid 19 crisis, there must be:
- An end to the waiting days period; immediate payment of state illness benefit
- This should cover all workers who are diagnosed; self-quarantined; or need to stay home with children or to nurse close family or friends in order to keep hospital beds open for the sickest patients.
- Quarantine should be based on a self-certification system as workers clearly cannot get a medical cert in circumstances of isolation or nursing sick relatives. Once they are registered as confined – which few would want to do – they should be eligible for payment and subject to the same regulations on making claims as any social welfare recipients.
- The payments should rise to 100% of previous wages. The current maximum under illness benefit is 203 Euro, with another 134 for an adult dependent. This is wholly inadequate.
- A suspension of the criteria (previous contributions history) during the crisis.
The payments should be paid out of the social insurance fund, with an emergency tax on all employers and an additional contribution from employers who do not operate a sick scheme for their workers.
Currently you must have at least 104 weeks of PRSI contributions paid since you first started work and/ or 39 weeks of PRSI contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year, of which 13 must be paid contributions. This will be difficult for many young workers, or those on short term or precarious contracts to fulfill. Illness Benefit rates are graduated according to your average weekly earnings in the relevant tax year. Average weekly earnings are calculated by dividing the total reckonable gross earnings (without deductions) in the relevant tax year by the actual number of weeks worked in that year.If you earn 300 or more euro per week, the max you get in illness benefit is 203 (you may get another 134 for an adult dependent) so worker earning 600 or 700 hundred faces a severe cut in pay as 203 is all they can get. This is why we should demand 100% of wages for this emergency, otherwise many workers will face the risk and work because they cant afford to stay home, thus increasing the risks for all society.