16th November 2020
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar is looking for feedback on his plans for new laws to give employees the right to paid sick leave.
Today (Monday, November 16) he has launched a consultation inviting views on how such a scheme would work.
The Tánaiste said: “Ireland is one of only a small number of European countries in which there is no legal obligation on employers to provide for sick pay, in the way they do annual leave for example. This needs to change and I am committed to introducing a statutory sick pay scheme that works for employees and employers as quickly as possible.”
Although many employers do provide for sick pay, there is no provision in Irish law for them to do so. Where sick leave entitlement is provided it’s set out in the contract of employment.
This means that many, usually low-paid and vulnerable workers are exposed in the event that they become unwell.
The Government has committed to enacting statutory sick pay legislation in Ireland by the end of 2021. It will be the latest in a series of actions that have improved social protections for workers over the last five years, including:
- paternity benefit,
- parental leave benefit,
- enhanced maternity benefit
- the extension of social insurance benefits to the self-employed
The Government knows this has been a very difficult year for employers, who already have to deal with ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and Brexit looming on the horizon. So the intention is to develop a scheme that is fair and affordable and that does not place an undue burden of costs on employers.
The Tánaiste said: “The scheme must be designed so that it protects employees, particularly low paid and vulnerable workers, but it also needs to be fair and affordable for employers, many of whom have faced great difficulties this year.
“I encourage employers and employees alike to engage with this consultation and make their views known.”
Further information on how to make a submission can be found at the following link: Public Consultation on the introduction of a Statutory Sick Pay scheme.
The closing date for submissions is Friday 18th of December.
Notes to the Editor:
There is currently no legal obligation on employers to pay workers during periods of illness. Statutory sick pay introduces such an obligation on employers to pay an employee who is unable to work because of illness.
However, many employers do, in fact, provide sick pay during illness without any statutory obligation to do so.
Where sick pay is not provided by an employer, the State pays Illness Benefit in certain circumstances.
- Sick leave is the right to be absent from work during sickness and return to one's job when recovered,
- Sick pay is the continued, time limited, payment of (part of) the worker’s salary by the employer during a period of sickness,
- Illness Benefit is the short-term scheme currently available to those paying PRSI.
Almost all EU Member States have legislation in place to implement statutory sick pay. Ireland is in a minority of countries with no provision for statutory sick pay.
In most countries, employees may by law, collective agreement or at the discretion of the employer, be entitled to sick pay, either for an initial shorter period of absence or for the entire duration of sick leave. Most EU Member States provide a double payment arrangement, with a period paid by the employer (in full or in part) followed by benefits paid by the social protection system. Where sick pay is only for an initial shorter period of absence, it is usually followed by sickness benefit for the entire duration of sick leave.
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