All employees in Ireland will be entitled to three sick days paid at 70 per cent of their wage next year, under a new law brought forward by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
Mr Varadkar, also the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said the Government’s sick leave Bill will also see the paid leave capped at daily rate of €110.
The statutory sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period, starting with three days per year in 2022.
This will rise to five days payable in 2023 and seven days payable in 2024. By 2025, employers will eventually cover the cost of 10 sick days per year.
Mr Varadkar said: “Ireland is one of the few advanced countries in Europe not to have a mandatory sick pay scheme and although about half employers do provide sick pay, 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.
“I believe this scheme can be one of the positive legacies of the pandemic as it will apply to illness of all forms and not just those related to Covid.”
Mr Varadkar said the scheme was being phased in over the four-year period to help employers, particularly small businesses, plan ahead and manage the additional cost.
He said the scheme was designed to be fair and affordable with the “minimum complexity and administrative burden for employers”.
Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70 per cent of an employee’s wage under the scheme, subject to a daily threshold of €110.
The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16. It can be revised over time by ministerial order in line with inflation and changing incomes, the Department of Employment said.
“The rate of 70 per cent and the daily cap are set to ensure excessive costs are not placed solely on employers, who in certain sectors may also have to deal with the cost of replacing staff who are out sick at short notice,” it said in a statement.
The Bill is primarily intended to provide a minimum level of protection to low paid employees
“The Bill is primarily intended to provide a minimum level of protection to low paid employees, who may have no entitlement to company sick pay schemes. The legislation will expressly state that this does not prevent employers offering better terms or unions negotiating for more through a collective agreement.”
An employee 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.
Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions, the department said.