By Ella Carey
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Neale Richmond T.D. has announced that entitlement to paid sick leave will increase from 3 to 5 days on 1 January 2024.
This is in line with the Government commitment to gradually increase the entitlement until 2026, when it will reach 10 days.
Minister Richmond said that sick employees should not feel like they must attend work due to financial fears:
“Paid sick leave is an important workers’ right which provides protection to employees who are genuinely unable to work due to ill health or injury”
He added that lower paid workers who cannot afford to take sick days will benefit most from this increase:
“Workers who have more favourable sick pay from their employer will not be impacted as this Scheme provides a minimum level of protection for workers”.
What will change in January
Paid sick leave ensures that all employees are entitled to a minimum level of financial compensation if they are unable to work due to illness or injury.
From 1 January 2024, the statutory sick leave entitlement will increase to 5 days’ statutory sick leave for the calendar year 2024.
They will be paid at 70 per cent of gross earning, up to a cap of €110.
It is primarily intended to provide sick pay coverage to those employees, often in low-paid and precarious roles, who do not have access to a company sick leave scheme.
The scheme offers a floor level of protection and does not interfere with existing, more favourable, sick pay schemes.
Although the Government is acutely aware that small businesses are concerned with the overall cost of doing business, the solution is not to dilute workers’ rights but to provide targeted measures to support businesses.
The Increased Cost of Business Scheme, announced in Budget 2024, will provide direct financial support to small businesses who are most impacted by increased costs.
Sick Leave Act 2022
The Sick Leave Act 2022 commenced on the 1 January 2023.
The statutory entitlement to sick leave is being rolled out as part of a 4-year plan and was initially set at 3 days per year in 2023, rising incrementally to 10 days by 2026.
The entitlement will increase from 3 days to 5 days per year on 1 January 2024; stage 2 of the plan.
Once an employee has exhausted their entitlement to employer-paid sick leave, they should move onto illness benefit, if eligible.
Illness Benefit is operated by the Department of Social Protection.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment are working with their Social Protection colleagues to ensure the seamless interaction between both schemes.
Where an employee is on statutory sick leave at the end of a calendar year, they should move onto illness benefit if they remain unfit to work.
However, should the employee return to work at any time in the following calendar year, they will have full access to their statutory sick leave entitlement for that year.
Part time employees/ multiple employers
Part time employees will also be entitled to 5 days.
The Act does not differentiate between full and part time employees.
However, the rate of pay is calculated depending on the average earnings of an individual employee in the preceding reference period.
An employee that has multiple employers is entitled to 5 days from each job.
Statutory sick leave is only payable upon submission of a valid medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner.