The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on employers to have regard to ensuring that workers' incomes are protected during the outbreak of Covid-19.

ICTU General Secretary Patricia King urged employers to actively engage with workers and their representatives on any implications that might arise in the workplace before decisions are taken regarding working arrangements as a result of the virus.

"In particular measures should be agreed that seek to protect the health and safety of all workers but also have regard to ensuring that workers' incomes are protected," she said.

Ms King recommended that discussions between workers and their employers should take account of the advice of Department of Health experts, and she urged the Workplace Relations Commission to engage with its stakeholders to develop an agreed response to the issues arising from Covid-19.

ICTU General Secretary Patricia King

She noted that at present Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan had estimated that the risk of Covid-19 spreading in Ireland is "low".

Meanwhile, Insurance Ireland said businesses or companies whose delivery of goods are affected by the coronavirus are unlikely to have relevant insurance cover.

Speaking on RTE's Today with Sean O’Rourke, Insurance Ireland Director of Government Affairs Declan Jackson said: "The main query we've been getting is - in the event that my business encounters some form of impairment such as not getting raw material in or not getting products to market, am I insured in a Coronavirus environment?"

"And the simple answer is, in all likelihood, no, because it's not material damage."

Mr Jackson said that a business may be lucky enough to have such cover in their policy, but he has not seen that.

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He said businesses usually get protection in contractual relationships with suppliers or customers.

"Business interruption actually didn't factor during the volcanic ash cloud," he said. "Because the protection is in the contract. Say you're getting raw materials from northern Italy and they're not in a position to open their factory. They have a contract to supply to you and that is where the protection for the business is in place."

Mr Jackson advised concerned businesses to check their Insurance Product Information Document (IPID) and find out what they are covered for.