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Sick leave bill ‘will lessen  public/private sector inequality’
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

16 Jun 2022 / legislation Print

Sick leave bill ‘will lessen private sector inequality’

The Sick Leave Bill which was presented in the Seanad yesterday creates a new workers’ right of an entitlement to statutory sick pay from employers.

Statutory sick pay will initially be paid at 70% of regular earnings, up to €110 per day, from the first day of illness, with a cap.

It follows moves on a new public holiday, St Brigid’s Day, at the start of February, the right to request remote working, protection for workplace tips, and a payment for those laid off during the pandemic who are subsequently made redundant.

Lose income

“No one should feel they have to go work when they are sick because they will lose all their income otherwise.


“It is bad for them, and it is bad for public health. Sick workers may infect colleagues, clients and customers and are more likely to make a mistake leading to harm to themselves and others,” he said.

About half of employers provide sick pay, he added, but low paid workers are the least likely to be covered.

Paid sick leave will now be available to all workers, both full-time and part-time.

“The bill will lessen inequality between the public and private sectors. Nearly all public servants have access to paid sick leave through the Public Service Sick Leave scheme,” the Tánaiste said.

Better-paid workers are more likely to have access to sick pay, or to be able to afford to take time off when ill. Coverage in the private sector, and particularly among the lowest-paid workers, is much lower, he added.

This is particularly true for workers in retail and hospitality, where employees often work directly with the public, and the chance of spreading infectious diseases is greater. 

The scheme will cover the three ‘waiting days’ before eligibility for illness benefit from the State.

Illness benefit

Once the employee has exhausted their entitlement to paid sick leave, they will move onto illness benefit, if eligible, for up to two years. 

The employer will eventually cover the cost of ten sick days per year from the fourth year of operation, after which illness benefit from the state continues to kick in. 

Any day taken as sick leave will require a medical cert from a registered medical practitioner.

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