Until the Sick Leave Act 2022 was passed into law, there was no statutory right to sick pay in Ireland.
However, since 01 January 2023, employers are now obliged to provide a minimum number of paid sick days annually.
This is called statutory sick pay.
What is the new Statutory Sick Pay Scheme (SSP)?
The Statutory Sick Pay Scheme (SSP) is the legal minimum sick pay. If an employee is sick or injured and is unable to work, they are now legally entitled to 3 days statutory sick pay.
The entitlement will increase over the next four years to a maximum of 10 days by 2026:
- 2023 - 3 days covered
- 2024 - 5 days covered
- 2025 - 7 days covered
- 2026 - 10 days covered
The sick pay year is the calendar year - it runs from 01 January to 31 December.
The leave must be in relation to a day or days when an employee would ordinarily work but is incapable of working due to illness or injury.
Sick days can be taken as consecutive days or non-consecutive days.
This entitlement is in addition to other leave including annual leave, public holidays, and maternity and parental leave.
The scheme is being enforced through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the courts system.
Who is entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?
To qualify for sick pay employees must have worked for you for at least 13 continuous weeks before being sick.
The sick leave must be certified by a GP as unable to work (from day 1).
The scheme is for full and part-time employees.
Employees who are on probation, undergoing training (interns), an apprentice or an agency worker are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. However, probation, training or apprenticeships can be suspended for the period an employee is on sick leave. The days can be added onto the end of the probation, training or apprenticeship period.
Employment rights are protected during sick leave. A person is still treated as being in employment while they are on sick leave and an employee who avails of their right to statutory sick leave should not be penalised for their absence.
How is sick pay calculated?
As an employer you must cover the costs of statutory sick pay for your employees.
Statutory sick leave payment must be paid at a normal daily rate. Employees are entitled to 70% of their normal pay, up to a maximum €110 a day:
Normal fixed salary
Normal daily pay includes any regular bonus or allowance which do not change from week-to-week (but excludes overtime or commission).
Fixed salary that varies due to a regular type bonus
If pay changes from week-to-week (for example, because of regular bonus payments or allowances), sick pay is the average of an employees' pay over the 13 weeks before they are on sick leave.
Unfixed salary that varies week-to-week
For those not paid a fixed salary whose income varies in relation to work done, normal earnings will be calculated over the four-week period immediately prior to the sick leave. Or, if no time was worked in that four weeks, the normal earnings will be calculated on the four weeks ending on the day on which time was last worked.
Statutory sick pay is subject to tax in the same manner as normal pay.
As an employer what do I need to do now?
Whether you already offer employees a sick pay arrangement or not you should seek HR advice on what to do next. If you do not have access to a HR department/company your accountant should be able to refer you to someone that can help.
What records do I need to keep?
As an employer, you must keep proper records for each employee. The records must be maintained for four years and include information in relation to each employee who availed of sick leave.
The following information must be included in the records:
- The employee’s period of employment
- The dates of statutory sick leave in respect of each employee
- The rate of statutory sick leave payment in relation to each employee
An employer who fails to maintain accurate records may be convicted and subject to a fine of up to €2,500.
What if I can’t pay sick leave?
In certain circumstances, an employer whose business is experiencing severe financial difficulties may apply to the Labour Court for an exemption to pay sick leave.
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Date published 17 Jan 2023 | Last updated 26 Jan 2023
This article is intended to inform rather than advise and is based on legislation and practice at the time. Taxpayer’s circumstances do vary and if you feel that the information provided is beneficial it is important that you contact us before implementation. If you take, or do not take action as a result of reading this article, before receiving our written endorsement, we will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.