Sick Leave And Sick Pay: Changes In the Law

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 20 July 2021
Caroline Reidy (McEnery)
The HR Suite
Issues covered: Sick Pay; Sick Leave

Currently in Ireland there is no legal requirement for employers to pay employees while they are on sick leave from work. That being said, this is going to change from 2022.

At present the employer can decide their own policy in respect to sick pay. Employer’s must have written information about their sick pay policy within the employment contract and employee handbooks. Although the employers have the right to decide on the amount of sick pay an employee will be paid while they are absent due to illness, the policy has to be equal and fair to all employees to avoid any potential equality or other claims.

 At the moment if an employer has no sick pay policy in place, the employee can receive illness benefits if they have enough PRSI contribution in place, the employee can apply to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to receive these benefits. If the employee does not have enough PRSI contributions, they should contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection representative at their local health centre. The representative will then asses the employee’s personal situation.

On 9 June 2021, The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, made an announcement that there will be an introduction of a Statutory Sick Pay Scheme.  It has been explained that the statutory sick pay scheme will be brought in over a four-year period and it will start with the introduction of three days per year in 2022, five days in 2023 and seven days in 2024. By the time 2025 comes around, it is hoped that the sick pay scheme will cover the cost of ten sick days per year.

The reason for phasing the statutory sick pay scheme in is because they are trying to help employers, particularly for small businesses to plan and manage the additional cost. The 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 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 can take a complaint to the WRC where their employer, from 2022 are not providing a sick pay scheme.

For an employee to get this sick pay leave under the new scheme, they must be working for their employer for a period of a six-month continuous service. The employee will also have to provide a sick certificate from their GP on the first day of absence to claim for this benefit.

In regards to being able to get illness benefits and sick pay at the same time, the employee can apply for illness benefits while getting sick pay. However, if your employer already provides sick pay, they will probably ask an employee to sign over any illness benefit payment to them for as long as the sick pay continues.

If an employee becomes ill during their annual leave and they get a medical certificate for the days they are ill, these sick days will not be counted as annual leave days. An employer cannot insist that the employee take annual leave on days they are off sick if you have a medical certificate for those days. If this happens, the employee can use the same number of days as annual leave at a later date.

Similar to an employee being sick during annual leave, when an employee is sick during a public holiday, the employee can still get pay or illness benefit for the days they missed. The employer can also treat the employee as not being on sick leave on the public holiday and pay the employee as normal for that day. If that is the case, the employer will not count the public holiday as a sick leave day. For part-time workers they must prove to their employer that they worked 40 hours in total over the previous 5-weeks to get the time off for the public holiday.

If an employee has an accident or injury at work the employer can provide sick pay and the employer should ask for the employee to sign over to them any injury benefit payment from the DSP for as long as the sick pay continues.

This article is correct at 20/07/2021
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy (McEnery)
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy (McEnery). Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

View all articles by Caroline Reidy (McEnery)