Details of Statutory Sick Pay Scheme revealed
15 June 2021 | 0
A statutory sick pay scheme has been announced by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar which will be phased in over a four-year period, starting with three days per year in 2022, rising to five days payable in 2023 and seven days payable in 2024. Employers will eventually cover the cost of 10 sick days per year in 2025. The government said the scheme is being phased in to help employers, particularly small businesses, to plan ahead and manage the additional cost, which has been capped.
“Ireland is one of the few advanced countries in Europe not to have a mandatory sick pay scheme,” said Tánaiste Varadkar “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.”
The government has approved the drafting of the General Scheme of the Sick Leave Bill 2021. Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, 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.
“I believe this reform is part of the pandemic dividend, the more inclusive economy and fairer society we are going to build once the pandemic is over,” the Tánaiste said. “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.
“We are only now getting back on our feet and are not yet out of woods,” he added. “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. The scheme is designed to be fair and affordable with the minimum complexity and administrative burden for employers.”
Other features of the scheme are that 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 Tánaiste also published a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) on the Sick Leave Bill, a copy of which is available here Sick Leave Bill 2021 Regulatory Impact Assessment.
The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) said that it has sought a meeting with officials from the Department of Enterprise to get clarity on a number of aspects that are contained within the Regulatory Impact Assessment.
“We note that ICTU are upset that a doctors cert will be required for all sick leave that is to be paid by an employer, and that the Scheme is limited to those employees that have been in the job for a minimum of six months,” the CSNA said, adding that “the association will continue to press for a Scheme that is fair to both parties, employees and their employers and will obviously keep members fully informed.”