The Cabinet has signed off on proposed new laws that will make it mandatory for all employers in Ireland to offer a minimum level of sick pay for employees.
The Sick Leave Bill 2022 will be published and begin its passage through the Houses of Oireachtas. It will come into effect as soon as it is enacted.
To reduce the burden on businesses, this new law will be phased in over a four-year period. Employers will initially be required to offer three days of sick leave per year, rising to five days in 2024, seven days in 2025 and ten days in 2026.
This pay will have to be a minimum of 70% of an employee’s normal wage, subject to a daily maximum of €110. This threshold can be adjusted through a ministerial order to keep it aligned with inflation or changes to incomes. Unions may negotiate for more via a collective agreement or if an employer already provides better sick leave benefits to an employee, they will not be obliged to comply with the statutory sick pay rules. Employees will be required to produce a medical certificate for each day of statutory sick leave they take.
Ireland is currently behind the rest of Europe with the introduction of these proposed new laws. Up until now, there was no obligation for employers to pay their employees during periods of sick leave and only some employment contracts provide a period of sick pay, entirely at the discretion of the employer. If employees do not have any sick pay, they can only avail of state-sponsored illness benefit, which is subject to sufficient PRSI contributions.
Written by Michelle Young