The new scheme will see all workers receive at least 10 days paid sick leave, which will be phased from next year.
A new statutory sick pay scheme will give all workers in Ireland the right to paid sick leave.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, announced details of the scheme, which will see all workers in Ireland receive at least 10 days of paid sick leave by 2025.
Ireland currently has no legal minimum for sick pay, making it one of the worst countries in Europe when it comes to sick leave.
While companies can currently determine the level of sick pay employees are entitled to, this largely depends on their contracts and can negatively impact lower-paid workers.
‘It’s not right that people feel forced to go to work when they are sick’
– LEO VARARDKAR, TD
A lack of mandatory sick pay can also lead to more employees coming into work even when they’re sick, something that has been more of an issue since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
A Laya Healthcare survey late last year found that 80pc of more than 1,000 employees in Ireland said they hadn’t taken any sick leave since the pandemic kicked off in March.
Varadkar said the new scheme can be seen as one of the positives of the pandemic as it will apply to illness of all forms and not just those related to Covid-19.
“We need to make sure that every worker, especially lower-paid workers in the private sector, have the security and peace of mind of knowing that if they fall ill and miss work, they won’t lose out on a full day’s pay,” he said.
The Government’s statutory sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period, starting with three days per year in 2022, rising to five days in 2023, seven days in 2024 and finally 10 days in 2025.
The phased process is to help businesses, especially SMEs, plan ahead and manage the additional cost.
Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70pc of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110.
This is to avoid excessive costs to employers, especially those in sectors that may also need to replace staff that are out sick on short notice. The legislation will not prevent employers offering better terms or unions negotiating for more through a collective agreement.
Employees will have to obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay, and the entitlement is subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of six months.
“By phasing this in over a four-year period, we are taking a balanced approach to plug a well-acknowledged gap in our social protections while also responding to the cost concerns of small businesses in the current economic environment,” said Varadkar.
“It’s not right that people feel forced to go to work when they are sick and it’s not good for public health. I know how difficult the past year and a half has been for workers and employers alike.”