I’m thinking of getting the flu vaccine. Can you tell me about this vaccine?
Influenza, usually known as the flu, is highly infectious and anyone can get it. However some groups are at greater risk of complications if they get the flu. This includes people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people who have a chronic medical condition.
The flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu. The flu virus changes every year and this is why there is a new vaccine each year. Vaccination is strongly recommended if you:
* Are aged 65 or over
* Have a long-term medical condition, for example, diabetes or chronic heart, kidney, liver, lung or neurological disease
* Have an impaired immune system due to disease or treatment
* Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40
* Are pregnant
* Live in a nursing home or other long-stay institution
* Are a carer or a healthcare worker
* Have regular contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs
If you are aged 18 or over, you can get the vaccine from your GP (family doctor) or pharmacist. Children can get the vaccine from a GP.
The vaccine itself is free of charge if you are in one of the recommended groups. However, doctors and pharmacists may charge a consultation fee when they give you the vaccine.
If you have a medical card or GP visit card, you can get the vaccine without being charged a consultation fee. You can read more about the flu and the vaccine on hse.ie.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.
I am pregnant but I have only been working with my employer for a few weeks. Am I entitled to maternity leave?
If you are pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to maternity leave, regardless of how long you have been working for the organisation or the number of hours worked per week. You can also take additional unpaid maternity leave. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 provide your statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work, including maternity leave.
You are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave. You can also take up to 16 weeks' additional unpaid maternity leave, which begins immediately after the end of maternity leave.
Under the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004, you must take at least 2 weeks before the end of the week of your baby's expected birth and at least 4 weeks after. You can decide how you would like to take the remaining weeks. Generally, employees take 2 weeks before the birth and the remaining weeks after. If you qualify for Maternity Benefit (see below) you must take at least 2 and no more than 16 weeks before the end of the week the baby is due.
Your entitlement to pay and superannuation during maternity leave depends on the terms of your contract of employment. Employers are not obliged to pay you if you are on maternity leave. You may qualify for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection if you have enough PRSI contributions.
However, your contract with your employer could provide for additional rights to payment during the leave period, so that, for example, you could receive full pay less the amount of your Maternity Benefit.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
I heard that there is a new grant scheme for installing solar panels in your home. How does the scheme work and do I qualify?
The Solar PV scheme gives grants to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and a battery energy storage system at your home. This means you can generate and use renewable electricity in your home and reduce your electricity costs. The Solar PV scheme is a pilot scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
To qualify for a grant you must:
* Be the owner of a home built and occupied before 2011 (or a home constructed after 2011 that was built to the 2008 Building Regulations)
* Use new materials and products that were not already covered under another grant programme * Use a registered contractor from the SEAI’s Renewable Installers Register for Solar PV
* Have the electrical work completed by a Safe Electric Ireland electrician * Apply to be connected to the electricity distribution system using the ESB Networks NC6 form (pdf) * Have a Building Energy Rating (BER) carried out after the work is completed
* Agree to participate in SEAI research about the scheme
The grant covers materials and labour, unless you are a contractor doing the work in your own home. In this case only the cost of the materials is covered.
When the SEAI payment system opens (in October 2018) you can claim your grant online and it will be paid directly into your bank account.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Know Your Rights D: National Car Test (NCT)
My car is due an NCT soon. Have the NCT rules changed recently?
Yes, recent changes to the National Car Test include how defects are classified and how vintage vehicles are treated.
All cars over 4 years old must take the NCT. If your car is liable for testing, it is an offence to drive your car without displaying a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) disc.
How regularly your car is tested depends on its age. The test must be repeated:
* Every 2 years, if your car is over 4 years and less than 10 years old
* Every year, if your car is over 10 years, but less than 30 years old
* Every 2 years, if your car is between 30 and 39 years old and you are not using it for commercial purposes (this used to be every year)
Since 13 August 2018, defects identified during the NCT are classified as minor, major or dangerous.
Minor: the vehicle has passed the test with minor faults. These faults must be repaired and the car must be re-inspected by the NCTS before you can get an NCT certificate.
Major: (previously fail refusal): the vehicle has failed the test. You must get it repaired and have it re-inspected by the NCTS within 30 days. If it passes re-inspection, you will get an NCT certificate.
Dangerous: (previously fail dangerous): the vehicle has failed due to a dangerous defect that poses a direct or immediate risk to road safety. The NCTS will put a ‘failed dangerous’ sticker on it. It is illegal to drive a vehicle with a dangerous defect
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below
Know Your Rights has been compiled by North Leinster Citizens Information (Longford Citizens Information Service)
which provides a free and confidential service to the public.
Tel: 0761 07 5890 Address: Level 1, Longford Shopping Centre, Longford
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.