Understanding Sick Leave and Sick Pay

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For many years, there was no legal provision for paid sick leave in Ireland. However, since January 1, 2023, significant changes have been introduced regarding sick pay entitlements. This article aims to shed light on Ireland’s new Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) scheme, providing essential information on who is entitled, how it’s calculated, and what protections are in place. Understanding Sick Leave and Sick Pay

What is the new Statutory Sick Pay scheme (SSP)?

The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is the legal minimum sick pay scheme. It is gradually being implemented over a four-year period:

  • 2023: 3 days of sick pay coverage.
  • 2024: 5 days of sick pay coverage.
  • 2025: 7 days of sick pay coverage.
  • 2026: 10 days of sick pay coverage.

You can take these sick days consecutively or intermittently. The sick pay year aligns with the calendar year, running from January 1 to December 31.

Under the SSP, you can receive 70% of your regular weekly pay, up to a maximum of €110 per day. Details on how sick pay is calculated are outlined below.

The rules and entitlements of the SSP are stipulated in the Sick Leave Act 2022, with the scheme commencing on January 1, 2023.

Am I entitled to sick pay?

To be eligible for statutory sick pay, you must meet these criteria:

  • Be an employee.
  • Have worked continuously for your employer for at least 13 weeks before falling ill.
  • Be certified by a GP as unable to work.

Additionally, the SSP applies to individuals on probation, those undergoing training (including interns), apprentices, and agency workers.

Do I need a medical certificate to get sick pay?

Under the sick leave legislation, it’s a requirement to obtain a medical certificate from a GP certifying your inability to work. Importantly, you have the right to SSP from the first day you are off sick. Employers cannot impose ‘waiting days’ before you become eligible for statutory sick pay.

How is my sick pay calculated?

Your statutory sick pay is calculated based on your regular daily rate. You are entitled to 70% of your usual pay, with a maximum limit of €110 per day.

Normal daily pay includes regular bonuses or allowances that remain consistent from week to week (overtime and commission are excluded). If your pay fluctuates from week to week due to bonuses or allowances, your sick pay will be the average of your earnings over the 13 weeks preceding your sick leave. However, remember that sick pay remains capped at €110 per day.

If my employer already has a sick pay scheme

Some employers may offer more generous sick pay schemes that exceed the statutory minimum. In such cases, your sick leave will be managed according to your employer’s scheme. However, their scheme must be more favorable overall compared to the SSP to apply.

If I am off sick for more than 3 days

Should your illness extend beyond 3 days, and provided you have sufficient PRSI contributions, you can apply for Illness Benefit through the Department of Social Protection (DSP). If you lack the necessary PRSI contributions, get in touch with your local health center representative, who will assess your situation.

Protection of your employment rights

Your employment rights remain protected during sick leave, and you are considered employed throughout this period.

Having problems getting sick pay

In case you encounter difficulties in receiving your sick pay, it’s advisable to first attempt an informal resolution with your employer. If this proves unsuccessful, you can escalate the matter by making a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Detailed information on how to submit a complaint can be found on their website.

I was penalized for taking sick pay

It’s crucial to understand that you are safeguarded from victimization or penalties for asserting your rights under sick leave legislation. Your employer cannot penalize you through dismissal, unfair treatment, or unfavorable changes in your employment terms. If you believe you’ve faced such repercussions, you can file a complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Employer exemption from paying sick pay

In cases of severe financial hardship, employers can request an exemption from paying statutory sick pay from the Labour Court. If granted, this exemption will typically be for a period lasting between 3 to 12 months.

More information

For a comprehensive understanding of sick leave and sick pay, refer to the Sick Leave Act 2022, the Commencement Order for the Sick Leave Act 2022, and the Sick Leave Act 2022 (Prescribed daily rate of payment) Regulations 2022. Additional information can be found on the WRC website regarding sick leave and related matters.

Remember to stay informed about your rights and obligations under the SSP, as it can have a significant impact on your financial well-being during times of illness.

Understanding Sick Leave and Sick Pay

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