Until now employers were not obliged to pay employees for absences for sickness, unless they had provided for such in the contract of employment. Many employers currently pay the first three days of sick leave, as most employees are entitled to social welfare payments beginning after the first three days of illness.
The Sick Leave Bill 2022 has been passed by government, and will commence shortly. It obliges employers to pay their employees when they are absent due to illness. The bill requires that a where a sick employee has thirteen weeks service, the employer must pay 70% of his or her daily pay up to a maximum of €110 per day.
The initial obligation is to pay for three days sick leave per year. This will increase to 5 days per year in 2024, 7 days per year in 2025 and 10 days per year in 2026 onwards.
The employee is obliged to present a medical cert in order to avail of the scheme. This certification may be a barrier for lower paid workers or for those who have difficulty getting same-day GP appointments.
It is important to remember, that a sick employee should not be contacted in relation to performing any duties and should not be expected to work remotely. If they are working from home, they are working and not on sick leave.
Importantly, the Bill obliges employers to have a Sick Leave Policy in place, and an employee may make a complaint to the WRC if they are not provided with such a policy.
We always advice employers to review their handbooks at least once a year, and when there are major changes in law. It is now important to create or review sick leave policies to ensure they are fit for purpose. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP, are happy to conduct a handbook review for any of our existing clients or any new clients.
The above is provided for information purposes and is not intended as legal advice. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP, would be happy to talk to you about your sick leave policy. Please contact us on 01-676 3257.
By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty
Partner at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP