17th November 2023
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Neale Richmond TD has today announced that entitlement to paid sick leave will increase from 3 to 5 days on 1 January 2024. This is in line with the government commitment to gradually increase the entitlement until 2026, when it will reach 10 days.
Minister Richmond said:
“We do not want workers to feel that they must attend work when they are sick due to financial fears. Paid sick leave is an important workers’ right which provides protection to employees who are genuinely unable to work due to ill health or injury. Lower paid workers who cannot afford to miss work when sick stand to benefit the most from this increase to five days paid sick leave.
Workers who have more favourable sick pay from their employer will not be impacted as this scheme provides a minimum level of protection for workers. The move to 5 days sick leave is the second stage of our 4-year plan which will see employer-paid sick leave rise to 10 days in 2026. This gradual increase in paid sick leave gives employers time to adjust and to plan for its introduction, but also gives workers certainty about their own rights.”
Paid sick leave ensures that all employees are entitled to a minimum level of financial compensation if they are unable to work due to illness or injury. Workers will be entitled to up to 5 days of sick leave in a year, paid at 70% of gross earning, up to a cap of €110. It is primarily intended to provide sick pay coverage to those employees, often in low-paid and precarious roles, who do not have access to a company sick leave scheme. The scheme offers a floor level of protection and does not interfere with existing, more favourable, sick pay schemes.
Although the government is acutely aware that small businesses are concerned with the overall cost of doing business, the solution is not to dilute workers’ rights but to provide targeted measures to support businesses.
The Increased Cost of Business Scheme, announced in Budget 2024, will provide direct financial support to small businesses who are most impacted by increased costs.
This government remains committed to backing business, backing workers, and ensuring that work pays.
Notes for Editors
- The Sick Leave Act 2022 commenced on 1 January 2023. The statutory entitlement to sick leave is being rolled out as part of a 4-year plan and was initially set at 3 days per year in 2023, rising incrementally to 10 days by 2026.
- The entitlement will increase from 3 days to 5 days per year on 1 January 2024; stage 2 of the plan.
- Once an employee has exhausted their entitlement to employer-paid sick leave, they should move onto illness benefit, if eligible.
What will change in January 2024?
From 1 January 2024, the statutory sick leave entitlement will increase to 5 days’ statutory sick leave for the calendar year 2024. This is an increase of two days compared to the 2023 entitlement. Any unused sick leave expires at the end of a calendar year.
Will this increase in sick leave entitlement result in a corresponding increase in Illness Benefit waiting days?
Illness Benefit is operated by the Department of Social Protection. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment are working with their Social Protection colleagues to ensure the seamless interaction between both schemes.
Where an employee is on statutory sick leave at the end of a calendar year, they should move onto illness benefit if they remain unfit to work. However, should the employee return to work at any time in the following calendar year, they will have full access to their statutory sick leave entitlement for that year.
Will part time employees also be entitled to 5 days?
Yes. The Act does not differentiate between full and part time employees. However, the rate of pay (70% of gross earnings, capped at €110) is calculated depending on the average earnings of an individual employee in the preceding reference period. See Sick Leave Act 2022 (Prescribed daily rate of payment) Regulations 2022 (SI No 607 of 2022). This indirectly reflects the relative earnings of a full time and part time employee.
If an employee has multiple employers, are they entitled to 5 days from each employer?
Yes. Once an employee has completed the 13 weeks service requirement for an employer, they are entitled to 5 days’ statutory sick leave. Statutory sick leave is only payable upon submission of a valid medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner. The onus is on employers to ensure internal control mechanisms are in place to prevent fraudulent claims.
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