Update: The Irish Government recently announced that the Sick Leave Bill 2022 was approved by the Cabinet and will now move through the legislative process.
The Irish government recently introduced Sick Leave Bill 2022 to provide all employees with up to 10 days of employer-paid sick leave.
If passed, the bill would enter into effect sometime in January 2022, and its implementation would be phased over a four-year period from 2022 to 2025.
Ireland is one of five European countries without mandated employer-paid sick leave. Currently, employers decide at their own discretion the elements of any sick leave and sick pay policy including duration, requirements for medical certificates and any compensation. Full-time employees who have sufficient social security contributions can apply for a government-paid Illness benefit, which is payable from the seventh day of illness at a rate of up to EUR 203 per week, before tax, for sick leave taken.
As a result of the global health pandemic, the government of Ireland realized the necessity of introducing a more generous and available paid sick leave scheme to ensure employees comply with public health guidelines by self-isolating without the risk of losing their jobs.
If the bill passes, employees would be entitled to statutory sick pay phased over the next four years as follows:
- Three sick days in 2022
- Five sick days in 2023
- Seven sick days in 2024
- 10 sick days in 2025
The statutory sick pay entitlement is subject to a minimum of six months of service with the employer and the provision of a medical certificate from a doctor confirming unfitness for work.
Statutory sick pay would be paid by the employer at a rate of 70% of the employee’s daily wage up to a maximum of EUR 110. The daily maximum limit may be revised by ministerial order over time to reflect inflation and changing income. The bill doesn’t specify whether the employee’s wage constitutes only basic salary or if it also includes variable payments such as bonuses, overtime, etc. If the bill passes, application regulations may be released to define employee’s wage.
Under the new law, in the event of any dispute relating to an employee’s entitlement to sick leave, a complaint may be presented or referred to the Workplace Relations Commission.
If the bill passes, employers will need to review their employment contracts, internal policies and handbooks to reflect the change. The Bill does not erode existing contractual entitlements to sick pay which exceed the amount introduced by the draft legislation.