All workers would have a right to six weeks paid sick leave under proposals put forward by Labour Party due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Party leader Alan Kelly appealed to the Government to adopt the plan that he argued would protect workers and society from “this deadly virus”.
The proposed legislation also gives parents the right to paid leave if their child is forced to stay home from school due to Covid-19.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has previously recommended that measures should be put in place to ensure workers are not deterred from taking sick days if they suspect they have Covid-19 due to fears that they would lose out financially.
Labour leader Alan Kelly (Brian Lawless/PA)
Mr Kelly said Labour’s Bill deals with such concerns.
Under the legislation workers would be entitled to six weeks sick pay at the same rate as annual leave.
After six weeks they would move on to illness benefit.
Employers would have to pay the first six days of sick pay in its entirety for the workers but after that the employer would be able to claim any illness benefit that would be due to the worker.
Labour Employment Affairs spokesperson, Senator Marie Sherlock said six weeks would still be less than other European countries like France and the Netherlands where workers are entitled to sick pay for 250 days and the UK where it’s just under 200 days.
Mr Kelly said there have been clusters of Covid-19 cases among low-paid workers and pointed to the meat processing sector.
He added: “Workers should not feel that they need to go into a work environment if they have a symptom of the virus.”
He said he was asking the Government to support the Bill and sponsor it.
Mr Kelly said it would be difficult to estimate the cost of the measures as it “depends on take up”.
He said the proposal would be a “social contract” between the State and employers adding: “We all have to pull together here”.
He referred to Ms Sherlock’s remarks and said: “We’re actually way behind from a European perspective in relation to this.”
Labour hope to introduce the Bill in the Dáil before the end of the month.