Part 8 of The Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020, passed on 27 March 2020 (the Act) has made a significant change to the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 (the 1967 Act) and is one which will give employers and employees some certainty and clarity around layoffs and short time working in the current crisis.
Employers will be familiar with the provision in Section 12 of the 1967 Act which allows an employee who has been placed on layoff or short time to serve a notice of intention to claim redundancy payment on his/her employer where he/she has been laid off or kept on short time for the periods set out in Section 12 of the 1967 Act.
Part 8 inserts a new Section 12A into the Redundancy Payments Act 1967, which essentially suspends the right to a redundancy payment by reason of layoff or short time provision in Section 12 of the 1967 Act. If an employee has been placed on layoff or short time because of the impact or effect of measures taken by the employer to comply with, or as a consequence of, Government policy to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of infection of COVID-19, then the employee cannot trigger the usual notice of intention to claim a redundancy payment as per Section 12. Part 7 provides for the suspension during "the emergency period" which is defined as the period beginning on 13 March 2020 and ending on 31 May 2020. The Act provides for the emergency period to be kept under review as the COVID-19 situation develops.
The provision addresses many of the concerns expressed by employers over the past few weeks that they could receive multiple notices of intention to claim a redundancy payment from employees on lay-off or short time working which would impact their businesses even more. In addition, the sheer numbers of employees affected would have resulted in an avalanche of applications to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection which the Minister has stated would have placed additional pressure on her department.
Most importantly, the provision is consistent with the Government's objective to preserve the employment relationship during this period of uncertainty and for the need to ensure "a continued attachment to the labour market for workers who have been temporarily laid off or put on short-time as a result of Covid-19".
To discuss any other COVID-19 related issues impacting your business, please get in touch with Barry Cahir (Litigation and Insolvency), Thomas O'Dwyer (Litigation), Sharon Delaney (Litigation), Dorit McCann (EU, Competition & Procurement), Damian Maloney (Corporate and Commercial), Aidan Marsh (Commercial Property), Gerry Gallen (Commercial Property), Sandra Masterson Power (Employment), Paul Gough (Employment), Edward Evans (Corporate & Commerical), Fidelma McManus (Housing) or your usual Beauchamps contact.