Can forecourts and convenience stores afford two weeks statutory sick pay?
The Tánaiste has announced eagerly awaited details of the Statutory Sick Pay Scheme.
All workers to get 10 days paid sick leave phased in between now and 2025.
Small, independent retailers and their trade bodies have raised concerns regarding affordability and impact on the viability of their businesses.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD announced further details of his new law to 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’s being phased in to help employers, particularly small businesses, to plan ahead and manage the additional cost, which has been capped.
The Tánaiste said: “Ireland is one of the few advanced countries in Europe not to have a mandatory sick pay scheme and although about half employers do provide sick pay, we need to make sure that every worker, especially lower paid workers in the private sector, have the security and peace of mind of knowing that if they fall ill and miss work, they won’t lose out on a full day’s pay. I believe this scheme can be one of the positive legacies of the pandemic as it will apply to illness of all forms and not just those related to Covid.”
Sick Leave Bill 2021
The Government today approved the drafting of the General Scheme of the Sick Leave Bill 2021. It will be the latest in a series of actions that have improved social protections for workers and the self-employed over the last five years, including paternity benefit, parental leave benefit, enhanced maternity benefit, treatment benefit and the extension of social insurance benefits to the self-employed
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.
The Tánaiste also published a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) on the Sick Leave Bill.