The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, this week announced details to introduce legislation that would give all workers the right to paid sick leave.
The Government’s statutory sick-pay scheme 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. It is being phased in to help SME’s, to plan ahead and manage the additional cost, which has been capped.
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.
The rate of 70% and the daily cap are set to ensure excessive costs are not placed solely on employers, who in certain sectors may also have to deal with the cost of replacing staff who are out sick at short notice. 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.
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.