Update: On 20 July 2022, the Sick Leave Act 2022 became law and will enter into effect on 1 January 2023. From 1 January 2023, workers will have a right to paid sick leave for up to three sick days per year. Sick leave entitlement will increase to five days in 2024, seven days in 2025, and 10 days in 2026.
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.