THIS is the time of year when a lot of people are getting colds and flus and may have to take time off work.
Today, we are going to look at what support is available if you find yourself in a situation where you have to take time off work due to illness.
Q: Can you clarify what rights to paid sick leave that employees have?
A: It may surprise some of your readers to hear that until this year, 2023, you had no legal right to be paid while you were on sick leave from work, no matter how long you had worked for your employer. However, this has changed.
Since January 1, 2023, you have a right to three days’ sick pay a year. This is called statutory sick pay (that means the legal minimum).
Sick pay is paid by your employer at 70% of your normal pay up to a maximum of €110 a day.
The entitlement to paid sick leave is being phased in over 4 years:
- 2023 - 3 days covered
- 2024 - 5 days covered
- 2025 - 7 days covered
- 2026 - 10 days covered
Sick days can be taken as consecutive days or non-consecutive days.
The sick pay year is the calendar year, so it runs from January 1 to December 21.
Q: Is every person who is in employment entitled to sick pay?
A: To qualify for statutory sick pay, you must be an employee and have worked for your employer for at least 13 continuous weeks before you are sick - that’s about three months.
You must also be certified by a GP as unable to work
Q: Does this mean that the employee needs a medical cert to get sick pay?
A: Yes - under the sick leave legislation, you must be certified by a GP as unable to work to qualify for statutory sick pay. You should be certified from day one of your sick leave.
You have a right to SSP (statutory sick pay) from the first day you are off sick.
Your employer cannot apply ‘waiting days’ before you get sick pay.
Q: How is the sick pay calculated?
Your statutory sick leave payment must be paid at your normal daily rate. You are entitled to 70% of your normal gross pay, up to a maximum €110 a day.
Q: Some employers may already have a sick pay scheme - how does this new scheme impact on those situations?
Yes, some employers already pay sick leave and may already offer their employees more generous sick pay arrangements than the new statutory scheme. These would normally be outlined within your contract of employment.
However, the important point to note is that any company’s sick leave scheme can’t be less than the statutory amount.
Q: What are my options if I experience problems getting sick pay?
A: If you do not get statutory sick pay, contact your employer to try to resolve the issue informally first.
If you cannot resolve the issue directly with your employer, you can make a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Contact your local Citizens Information Centre for information on how to make a complaint to the WRC
You must make your complaint within six months of the dispute. The time limit can be extended for a further six months if there is reasonable cause for the delay.
Q: This new statutory sick pay scheme provides sick pay for a limited number of days e.g. three days in 2023. What happens if I am off sick for more than three days?
A: If you are off work sick for more than three days, and you have enough PRSI contributions, you can apply to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for a payment called Illness Benefit.
If you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you should contact the DSP’s representative at your local health centre. They will assess your situation and you may have entitlement to Supplementary Welfare Allowance which is means-tested.
The South Munster Citizens Information telephone lines in Cork city are monitored from 10am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
In addition, the Cork City Centre CIC in Cornmarket Street is open to the public from 10am to 12.30pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the Blackpool CIC is open to the public each morning from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.
Full details for all Citizens Information Centres and their opening times are available on their website https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/