Statutory Sick Leave In Ireland
The intention of the Sick Leave Bill 2021 currently going through the legislative process is that a new employment right will be created providing all employees covered by the Act with a minimum entitlement to 3 paid sick leave days per year from their employer.
The intention is that the Sick Leave Act will provide a floor level of protection to all employees and that existing less favourable sick pay arrangements will be rendered null and void.
However, it is not intended that existing more favourable sick pay arrangements will be undermined by this legislation.
An employee will only become eligible for statutory sick pay once they have worked for their employer for a period of six months.
An employee will need to be certified as unfit to work due to illness or injury by a medical practitioner in order to be eligible for statutory sick leave.
Part-time or irregular hours workers will receive statutory sick leave for days they would ordinarily work.
Rate of Payment
An employee will be entitled to 70% of their gross normal earnings in respect of their sick leave entitlement up to a maximum of €110 per day. The upper earnings threshold is designed to prevent excessive costs being imposed on businesses and reflects Quarter 4 2019 national mean weekly earnings from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
Method of Calculation
The method of calculation is taken from S.I. 475/1997 Organisation of Working Time (Determination of Pay for Holidays) Regulations, 1997 and is intended to ensure that part-time employees or those who work irregular shift patterns will receive an appropriate rate of compensation when absent through illness or injury.
Minister may set the Rate and Days
The Minister will have the power to amend the number of paid sick leave days an employee will be entitled to under this Act.
The initial entitlement of three days is modest to provide employers with an opportunity to adjust to costs and the administrative burden, however, it is intended that over time the level of coverage will increase incrementally.
The Minister will have the power to amend:
- the number of sick leave days provided for under this Act
- the percentage rate that shall be paid,
- the upper earnings maximum cap provided for.
Amendments will be made following consideration and due regard by the Minister to:
- the economic climate,
- the CSO annual and quarterly data on earnings and labour costs,
- the possible impacts an amendment will have on both employers and employees.
Recording and Counting of Statutory Sick Leave
Employers will be prevented from recording sick leave to which an employee is entitled under this Act as any other form of leave.
Furthermore, an absence related to sick leave under this Act need not be counted towards the time required to complete a period of probation, training or apprenticeship.
Protection from Penalisation
An employee cannot be penalised for availing of sick leave as provided for under this Act in line with similar provisions in existing legislation e.g. availing of sick leave will not be considered as appropriate grounds for dismissal, for selection for redundancy or cannot result in an unfavourable change in employment conditions upon the employees return.