The spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, is an exceptional circumstance with ongoing ramifications for organisations, individuals and society on every level. As the situation continues to develop and change, the CIPD will provide updated advice, resources and guidance to support employers and people professionals in their response.

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Last reviewed: 21 January 2021


As the country has moved to Level 5 due to the escalation in the spread of the coronavirus, everyone is being asked to stay at home, except for travel for work or other essential purposes, or to take exercise within 5km of home. Employers should reinforce and facilitate compliance with government guidelines.

Employees should be enabled to work from home unless essential for work, which is an essential health, social care or other essential service that cannot be done from home. This includes construction from Friday 8 Jan, with limited exceptions. All non-essential services and retail are closed except for essential retail. Face coverings must be worn.

Schools remain closed until 1 February and higher and further education are to remain primarily online. This will create difficulties for many working parents and we encourage employers to be flexible and supportive in how carers manage their time and can access leave as needed.

There will be no gatherings other than small numbers at funerals and weddings. The only permitted travel is for food shopping, travel to and from essential work, medical appointments, farming purposes and for vital family reasons. From 16 January all passengers arriving into Ireland (except those arriving from Northern Ireland) are required to have a negative or ‘not detected’ result from a pre-departure COVID-19 RT-PCR test that was carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, Enhanced Illness Benefit for COVID-19, Enhanced Wage subsidy scheme and other COVID-19 business supports are available to employers. Take up of the Enhanced Illness Benefit for COVID-19  is low and employers should encourage relevant employees to draw down this benefit.

Click to see the government’s guide to the new changes  Employers are required to educate employees to comply with these restrictions and how to protect themselves in view of the pandemic under the Revised workplace Protocol


2020 has shown all of us how crucial our own wellbeing is and that of our managers and employees. As we deal with Level 5 restrictions in winter, increasing attention on employee mental health and wellbeing is necessary. We recommend starting by revisiting how to get the most from remote working. Our series of top tips will help you and your teams focus on healthy remote working where employees feel supported, and will reinforce the good practices introduced last March that may have slipped. Our newly designed wellbeing hub provides resources designed to support you, your managers and organisations on health and mental health

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Resources and guidance to help you

Click on the icons below to see a list of relevant resources.

Need more help? CIPD members can call our Employment Law Helpline on 1800 812 603 to get advice on all aspects of Irish employment law. Members are entitled to 20 calls per year (25 if you’re a Chartered member). The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We know that our members and customers are facing challenging times and we are here to help you. Due to a high number of calls we apologise that your wait time may be longer than usual. We appreciate your patience and will connect you to an expert adviser as soon as we can.

CIPD position

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is an exceptional event posing a threat to worker health and safety and a risk to business operations. 

As a new virus, it’s unclear how long the threat will last so organisations must plan for weeks and possibly months of disruption. 

Employee health, safety and well-being during this time is paramount. Employers need to be proactive in protecting their people and minimising the risk to staff and business continuity. The people profession needs to be at the forefront of the plans and critical decisions being made about the workforce. 

They must recognise that many of their people will be anxious about contracting the virus and how they might cope financially if they are to be absent from work. Constant communication with the workforce and early action are key.  

By swiftly adopting agile and flexible working practices, and being generous with sick pay for example, organisations will be better positioned to contain the coronavirus and minimise disruption to business. 

Even so, the risk cannot be completely eliminated. Governments, employers and employees must all be ready to take additional steps to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

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