Statutory sick pay to be phased in from 2022
A statutory sick pay scheme is set to be phased in over a four-year period beginning in 2022.
Ministers yesterday approved the drafting of the general scheme of the Sick Leave Bill 2021, which will initially provide for three days of paid sick leave per year in 2022, rising to five days in 2023 and seven days in 2024. Employers will eventually cover the cost of 10 sick days per year in 2025.
Sick pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70 per cent 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.
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.
The government says 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.
Tánaiste and Employment Minister Leo 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-19.”
He added: “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. 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.”