On 29 March 2022, the Irish Cabinet approved the Sick Leave Bill, 2022 (“the Bill”) which introduces, for the first time in Ireland, a formal scheme for statutory sick pay for Irish employees.
The statutory scheme will begin with 3 paid sick days per year once the bill is enacted, increasing to 5 days in 2024, 7 days in 2025, and 10 days in 2026. Under the Bill, 70% of the normal wage of the employee is to be paid by the employer capped at a daily maximum of €110. This threshold is a concession to employers to avoid disproportionate costs in relation to employees with high salaries. The threshold can be amended later by ministerial order should it be required. The Bill does not prevent employers offering better terms or unions negotiating for more through a collective agreement.
The employee availing of the statutory sick pay scheme must be working for their employer for a minimum of 13 weeks and their GP will need to have medically certified them as unfit for work in order to avail of the scheme. Should the employee remain ill once the statutory sick pay entitlement ends, they will then, subject to their PRSI contributions, be able to avail of illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection.
The Bill will now proceed to the Committee Stage where it will be examined section by section before Dáil Éireann and amended as necessary. It is then sent to Seanad Éireann where it will be debated and examined further before being implemented into Irish Law. It is envisaged that the scheme will come into force in September 2022.
Employers will need to plan for the introduction of this statutory requirement to pay sick leave and amend their employment policies, handbooks and contracts going forward to take this change into account. Compliance with the statutory scheme will be legally enforceable via the Workplace Relations Commission (the “WRC”) as the scheme allows for a right for an employee to take a complaint to the WRC if they are not provided with a company sick pay scheme.
For further information, please contact Margaret McCarthy (Solicitor) or your usual AMOSS contact.