Sick pay rights to expand to all workers under new legislation

The Government estimates up to half of workers do not currently have such coverage
Sick pay rights to expand to all workers under new legislation

All workers will have the right to paid sick leave under plans to be considered by the Government today.

The Irish Times reports that the Government estimates up to half of workers do not currently have such coverage.

Under new legislative proposals to be brought before Cabinet on Wednesday by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, greater sick pay rights will be extended to all workers from next year.

Employers will be told to guarantee a minimum number of paid sick days annually from 2022.

However, it will be several years before a promised statutory sick pay regime is fully in place in order to give employers time to adjust.

Timeframe

The Covid-19 pandemic and associated transmission in the workplace have brought an emphasis on terms and conditions for employees without sick pay, many of whom are employed in lower-paid roles.

The Bill will seek to provide a minimum level of protection to employees without entitlement to company sick pay schemes.

However, it is understood that the legislation will specify that employers may offer better terms and unions may negotiate for more generous schemes through collective agreements, including agreements that are already in place.

The number of days per year which employers will have to provide will kick in from 2022 and is likely to increase in following years; however, final decisions on these matters will be taken at Cabinet.

Additional costs arising from the scheme are also likely to be capped.

Employer costs

Mr Varadkar has previously said he intends to introduce statutory sick pay this year. It is understood the new system will be phased in over a given period – sources indicated perhaps three or four years – to give employers a chance to adjust to the new regime.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has previously said that the Government’s planned new statutory sick pay scheme would be aimed at being fair and affordable.

It said it was not intended to involve placing undue costs on employers and it was “particularly conscious of any extra costs on micro-enterprises and small businesses”.

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