All workers will be entitled to paid sick leave for the first time under new laws due to come into force in September.
The cabinet yesterday signed the new legal system that Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar say must become a legacy of the pandemic.
Workers are entitled to 70% of their wages, up to €110 a day for three days, when the law comes into force later this year.
This increases to an entitlement to five days paid leave in 2024, seven days in 2025 and ten days in 2026.
It is paid for by her employer.
An employee must have a medical certificate to claim sick pay and have worked for their employer for at least 13 weeks to qualify.
The new law will narrow the gap between the entitlements of public and private sector workers.
During the pandemic, a lack of paid sick leave in sectors like food processing came to the fore.
Unions claimed that workers at meat plants, which have seen numerous outbreaks of Covid-19, turned up to work despite being ill because they could not afford to stay outside.
This is because they could only claim sick pay or extended Covid sick pay at lower rates than their salary.
“The pandemic has exposed the precarious position of many people, particularly in the private sector and in low-paid positions, when it comes to sick leave,” Mr Varadkar said.
“Nobody should feel pressured to come to work sick because they can’t afford not to.”
He said Ireland was one of the few advanced countries in Europe not to have a mandatory sick pay system.
“And although many, we think about half of employers pay sick pay, we have to make sure that security, that safety net, is there for all workers, regardless of their job,” he said.
He said he fully understands that many companies are currently struggling with additional costs due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fallout from Covid and Brexit.
“So we decided to phase this out in this way,” he said.
“We have put a lot of effort into making the system easy to use, fair and affordable for employers.
“We’ve had a lot of consultations with both employee and employer representatives on this and while I know some will think it’s going too far and others will think it’s not going far enough, I think it’s gone fairly is and reasonable balance.”
Greg Ennis, the organizer of the Siptu manufacturing department, said that at the biennial Siptu conference in Sligo this did not go far enough.
Speaking on a request for sick pay, he said workers would have to choose between going to work or isolating during the pandemic and losing at least a third of their wages.
He said billionaire meat barons might be able to survive on two-thirds of their wages, but workers above minimum wage could not.
The daily earnings limit of €110 in the system is based on an average weekly earnings of €786.33 in 2019 and corresponds to an annual salary of €40,889.
It can be adjusted for inflation and changing incomes by ministerial decree.
Meanwhile, senior Siptu official John King, who heads the Civil Service Department, announced civil servants are expected to return to a shorter workweek from July 1.
The government is expected to accept the proposal submitted by an independent body.
There is mounting pressure on the government to review the current public sector wage agreement due to rising inflation.
Mr King said a letter had been sent to the government asking that a review clause in Building Momentum be invoked but no reply had been received. “I think we all know where inflation stands and it’s true that inflation has undermined the value of the deal,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/all-workers-to-qualify-for-sick-pay-worth-70pc-of-wages-41501308.html All employees are entitled to sickness benefits worth 70 percent of their wages