Sick Leave – Ensure That Your Contracts And Payroll Provider Are Ready For The Change

The Irish Government recently brought in significant changes to leave entitlements for employees with the introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme.  

The Sick Leave Act, 2022 (“2022 Act”) was signed into law on 20 July 2022 and is awaiting a Ministerial Order for commencement which is expected very shortly.

What has changed with the introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme?

The 2022 Act introduces a statutory sick pay scheme into Ireland for the first time. This brings Ireland in line with other EU countries and the UK where such schemes are the norm. The scheme introduces paid sick leave on a phased basis with the entitlements increasing over a four-year period.

The 2022 Act introduces a statutory entitlement to paid sick leave for up to three days a year with the entitlement increasing a year later to five days paid leave, after another year to  seven days paid leave to and, finally, after a further year, 10 days paid leave most likely in 2026.

The employer will be responsible for paying up to 70% of the employee’s normal wages throughout their leave, up to a daily maximum of €110.

Are all employees eligible?

In order to be eligible for statutory sick leave, an employee must have completed thirteen weeks continuous service and have provided a medical certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner.

What other obligations are on employers?

The 2022 Act includes reporting obligations and requires employers to keep records of all employees availing of statutory sick pay for four years. If an employer fails to keep such records they will be guilty of an offence and liable to a class C fine.

What should employers do?

The 2022 Act applies to all employers in both the public and private sector and regardless of the size of the organisation. Where an employer fails to introduce the statutory sick pay scheme, a complaint can be brought to the Workplace Relations Commission. It is important that employers update their employment policies to set out an employee’s right to statutory sick pay and ensure management and HR personnel are adequately trained on these changes. Employers should ensure that their policies clearly state the statutory sick leave entitlements of employees and the rate of pay available to them. Employers should also ensure they have a record keeping system in place to record employees on paid sick leave.

The Association will be providing a suggested template for inclusion into employment contracts once the regulations are published.