You would be hard pressed to think of a positive outcome from the covid pandemic emergency, but Ireland can boast one – the introduction this year of compulsory sick pay for workers. It was the pandemic that convinced the government to legislate and introduce sick pay laws to bring Ireland into line with other European countries. The new law will be of particular help to the lower paid and for those in the private sector. At CareerWise, we are experts in all things employment. Here is our guide to the new legislation and sick leave in Ireland.
Before 2022, workers had no legal right to paid while they were sick. This has now changed. In July this year the Sick Leave Act 2022 became law. The new rules are being phased in over four years to take account of firms in the private sector still struggling to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Paid sick leave of up to three days a year is now mandatory from 1st of January 2023. This will increase to five days a year in 2024, seven days in 2025 and 10 days in 2026. Under the new law, employers will be required to pay 70% of normal wages to an employee on sick leave (up to a maximum of €110 per day).
To qualify for paid sick leave under the new law, a worker should have been with an employer for a minimum of 13 weeks. They must also have been signed off as sick by a doctor. A medical certificate from a doctor should state the date the employee is expected to be fit to return to work (if that is known). For long-term sickness, an employer may ask for weekly medical certificates.
An employee meeting the criteria for sick leave eligibility must be provided with a company sick pay scheme. Employers who fail to provide one can be referred by an employee to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Once entitlement to sick pay from an 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 next line of defence for an employee without enough PRSI contributions is to contact the Community Welfare Officer at a local health centre. They will assess the situation.
An employee suffering an accident at work can apply for injury benefit from the Department of Social Protection, again subject to PRSI contributions.
In the case of both illness benefit and injury benefit, if an employee is also getting sick pay, the employer may ask them to sign over the state money for as long as the sick pay continues.
A full-time employee who falls sick on a public holiday is entitled to sick pay (or illness benefit) for that day. Alternatively, an employer may pay the employee as normal in which case the public holiday is not counted as a sick leave day.
An employee who becomes ill during their annual leave (and obtains a medical certificate) will not have those days counted as annual leave. Instead, they can use the same number of days as annual leave at a later date.
Ireland had lagged behind other European economies in not providing mandatory sick leave entitlement. Under the old arrangements, about half of the country’s workforce enjoyed sick leave entitlement, many of them in the public sector.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said the scheme was designed to plug the gap but was also being phased in to enable employers to plan ahead and manage the additional cost.
Varadkar said: “The pandemic exposed the precarious position of many people, especially in the private sector and in low-paid roles, when it comes to missing work due to illness. No one should feel pressured to come to work when they are ill because they can’t afford not to.”
Here at CareerWise, we can help you navigate all the ins and outs of employment. Our friendly team of recruitment experts pride themselves on connecting the best talent to the perfect role, every time. Get in touch today with our recruitment agency in Limerick, Cork, Galway, Dublin and Mayo.
Diarmuid joins Careerwise with a strong Industrial technical support, technical recruitment and capital equipment sales background. He has had extensive exposure to the manufacturing sector within Ireland from his previous roles with a number of leading multinational companies such as Siemens, Atlas Copco and Logitech.
Diarmuid holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the Open University along with technical qualifications in Electrical Engineering and Automation from the CIT.
Diarmuid is also qualified as a Certified Manufacturing Engineer with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
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