30th March 2020

Who is a vulnerable person?

By means of Legal Notice 111 of 2020 (The Protection of Vulnerable Persons Order, 2020,) the Superintendent of Public Health has ordered individuals who specifically fall under the list of ‘vulnerable persons’ “to remain segregated in their residence”.

“Vulnerable persons” include:

  1. Persons of sixty-five (65) years of age or over;
  2. Pregnant women;
  3. Persons suffering from the following illnesses and, or medical conditions:
  • Insulin dependent diabetics;
  • Patients who are immunosuppressed;
  • Patients undergoing any immunosuppressive treatment including but not limited to the use of biological agents and immunomodulators;
  • Patients suffering from cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy;
  • Patients suffering, or who have suffered, from cancer having undergone chemotherapy at any time within the last six (6) months preceding the entry into force of this order (ie Saturday 28th March 2020);
  • Patients on dialysis;
  • Patients who are to be admitted to hospital with respiratory problem exacerbations;
  • Patients who, at any time within the last year preceding the entry into force of this order, have been admitted to hospital with respiratory problem exacerbations;
  • Patients suffering from cardiac disease who are to undergo a cardiac intervention or a cardiac surgical procedure;
  • Patients suffering, or who have suffered, from cardiac disease having undergone a cardiac intervention or a cardiac surgical procedure at any time during the last six (6) months preceding the entry into force of this order;
  • Patients attending a heart failure clinic and
  • Patients on oral steroids.

Any vulnerable person who occupies a  public  office,  is  a  Member  of  Parliament, employed in the health services sector or is a health care professional, and, or, who occupies an essential headship position,  shall  be  exempt  from  this  measure  unless  that person chooses otherwise.

Do any exceptions apply?

The order does not apply in the event that  the vulnerable  persons  need  to  leave  their  residence  to  attend  medical appointments,  obtain  medical  care  or  treatment,  acquire  food,  medicine, other daily necessities, or to attend to any other essential or urgent personal matter.

If an employee is a ‘vulnerable person’ does the employer have to pay special quarantine leave if the employee cannot work from home?

Legal Notice 111 of 2020 makes no reference to quarantine, and therefore it is being assumed that the employer need not pay special quarantine leave.

If an employee is a ‘vulnerable person’ and cannot work from home, is such employee entitled to any government financial aid?

Although in a previous Government press conference reference was made to special quarantine leave entitlement for vulnerable persons, as at the 30th of March 2020 there is no Legal Notice which makes reference to any special entitlement or benefits for vulnerable persons.

Today, however, the Social Security Department has issued an application together with guidance for a Medical Benefit to be provided.

This Medical Benefit may be applied for by persons:

  1. Employed in the private sector in full-time or part-time employment;
  2. Who have not reached retirement age and;
  3. Who after the 27th of March 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19 have been ordered by the Superintendent of Public Health not to leave their home, are not able to work from home and are not being paid by their employer during their absence from work.

Individuals entitled to such Medical Benefit will receive a direct payment of €166.15 per week in cases of full-time employment or €103.85 per week in cases of part-time employment.

Individuals entitled to such benefit will also enjoy the following benefits:

  • Social Security Contributions will be paid and individuals’ future contributory pension rights will be safeguarded;
  • If such individual is entitled to Children’s Allowance, such individuals’ rate will be adjusted taking into consideration the new income earned. This may increase up to the maximum rate of €24.08 per week per child;
  • If such individual is entitled to the In Work Benefit, such person will continue to receive it without deductions;
  • If such individual is entitled to Supplementary Allowance, such individual will have his/her rate adjusted taking into consideration the new income earned. This may increase up to the maximum rate of €4.57 per week for single persons and €12.54 per week for couples.

How can we help?

Should you require any assistance relative to this Article, please do not hesitate to reach out to us personally.

Should you require any further information or assistance on the matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to us personally on paul.gonzi@fenlex.com and mattea.pullicino@fenlex.com.

©Fenech & Fenech Advocates 2020

Disclaimer │ The information provided on this Update does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All information, content, and materials available are for general informational purposes only.  This Update may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information and you are advised to seek updated advice.