Ah Ireland, the land of a thousand welcomes. The Irish are so progressive in so many ways and are internationally renowned for being almighty craic. They look after each other, and that’s why it’s so surprising that currently, Irish employers are not obliged to pay their employees when they are on sick leave. It is at the discretion of the employers whether they want to include paid sick leave as part of their own policies and they can set their own rules on how much sick leave to pay and for how long. A survey done in 2019 found that only 44% of lawyers provided some sort of sick leave.
So what happens in Ireland if you catch the lurgy and you’re bound to your bed for a week? Along with plenty of pro-plus and some flat 7-Up you could be entitled to state benefits like Illness Benefit or Covid Illness Benefit, provided you have been making the requisite social insurance contributions to be eligible. In any case, neither of these benefits are equal to a typical week's pay.
From Jan 2022 it will be mandatory for employers in Ireland to provide Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees. Read about how it will be calculated here: https://t.co/m8q2EEtT7Z #Payroll #SSP pic.twitter.com/Hgx0OfkVrj— BrightPay Ireland (@BrightPayEire) July 19, 2021
But like many things, COVID-19 has come along and changed everything. The amount of people who would have had to stay home and miss out on pay due to COVID-19 has shone a massive spotlight on the inadequacies of the Irish sick pay system and the lack of sick pay has been credited with many people choosing not to self-isolate when presenting with symptoms of coronavirus, hence why changes are now being made.
So what’s happening? From 2022, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be an employment right and will be phased in over a four-year period. To begin with, there will be three days payable per year in 2022, rising to 5 days payable in 2023 and seven days in 2024, which will become 10 sick days per year by 2025. The phased introduction is to allow employers to prepare and adjust for the costs and changes brought with the scheme.
The sick pay will be paid by employers at 70% of the employees wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110 to ensure employers don’t face excessive costs. This threshold may be revised by ministerial order in accordance with inflation and change in incomes. To qualify for SSP, employees will need to obtain a medical certificate and must have worked for the employer for a minimum of six months. If the employee's entitlement period for statutory sick pay ends and the employee needs more time off then they may be able to qualify for the aforementioned Illness Benefit.
At the moment, sick employees must normally apply for Illness Benefit within seven days of becoming ill and no payment is made for the first three days. But this would now be counteracted by the new statutory sick pay reforms. For long convalescence, Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of:
In 2021 the top rate of Illness Benefit for someone earning €300 or more per week is €203 a week. Rates are lower if your earnings are below €300 a week. The personal rate for Covid-19 enhanced Illness Benefit is €350 per week, it will be paid for a maximum of 2 weeks where a person is medically required to self isolate and for a maximum of 10 weeks for certified absence from work with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
If your employer does already provide sick pay entitlement then the good news is that this scheme will not interfere with any existing, more favourable, sick pay schemes that are in place. Employers can opt to pay more than the statutory sick pay if they’re feeling really really nice. In any case, whilst not the best SSP in the world, this is very welcome news and only a good thing. In the meantime we can carry on as normal and try our best not to get sick so wear your mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. Thankyouverymuch.
Written by Aoibheann Byrne | BrightPay Payroll Software