Public Consultation - Note on Statutory Sick Pay

Note on Statutory Sick Pay

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has launched a public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to paid sick leave for all employees. The purpose of the consultation and the proposed change is to bring Ireland in line with other OECD countries by providing for a statutory entitlement to sick pay.

Statutory sick pay is money that an employer must by law provide to an employee who is unable to work because of an illness. In Ireland, there is currently no legal obligation on employers to pay workers during periods of illness. Statutory sick pay introduces such an obligation. However, even at present many employers provide sick pay during illness despite the lack of a statutory obligation to do so. Where sick pay is not provided by an employer, the State pays Illness Benefit in certain circumstances.

Illness Benefit from the Department of Social Protection is available where a person cannot work because they are sick or ill. To qualify, they must be aged under 66, covered by the appropriate class of social insurance (PRSI) and satisfy the PRSI conditions. No payment is made for the first 6 days of illness. The weekly benefit depends on the weekly earnings of a worker. The lowest personal rate is €84.50 per week for those earning less than €150 per week. The highest personal rate is €188 per week for those earning €300 or more per week.

In the context of Covid-19, the Government has adjusted the Illness Benefit for persons affected by COVID-19. If a worker is told to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19, they can apply for a COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week. Both employees and self-employed people can qualify for the COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

For comparison, in the United Kingdom, workers can get £95.85 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are too ill to work. This amount is paid by the person’s employer for up to 28 weeks. While employees cannot get less than the statutory amount, they can get more if the company has a sick pay scheme. In normal circumstances employees receive SSP from the fourth day of their illness, however, they can receive it immediately if required to self-isolate due to experiencing Covid-19 symptoms or having had close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19. In most OECD countries, however, Statutory Sick Pay is set as a percentage of the employee’s wage, typically 60% or above.

The Irish Government’s consultation on statutory sick pay will run from 16th November to 18th December. The Government plans to legislate on this issue by the end of 2021. A link to the announcement on the public consultations is available here.

To participate in the consultation, download and fill in the relevant questionnaire at the bottom of the webpage and send it to statutorysickpayconsultation@enterprise.gov.ie.

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