Employers responsibility for staff too sick to work is about to change, for the better - ICTU

9 Jun 2021

health

Responding to Government approval of the design of the statutory sick pay scheme, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “Ireland is one of just a handful of wealthy countries globally that does not guarantee workers paid sick leave from their employer. That is about to change.

“As a result of the ICTU’s public awareness-raising campaign on a root cause of Covid-19 infection clusters in meat plants and our calls to make sick pay a workers’ right, and our engagement with Government on the details of the scheme, legislation requiring employers to pay their staff when they are too sick to work has been brought forward today.”

Ms. King added: “Legal recognition of employers’ duty to their staff during periods of sickness is decades overdue. Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic to bring us to this point today. However, a concern for Congress is the requirement to be with your employer for six months to qualify for sick pay as this has the potential to incentivise some employers to opt for causal employment contracts to circumnavigate their obligation. Also, the qualifying requirement to have your sickness certified by a GP will place a financial burden on workers, who unlike their peers across Europe and in the UK and NI have to pay out-of-pocket for primary healthcare.”

Social Policy Officer, Dr Laura Bambrick said: “Ensuring workers are well at work is a basic issue of safety and simply the right thing to do. When workers are unwell they need to rest to recover. When sick workers stay home they reduce the spread of infection and the risk of workplace accidents; they protect others.

“This legislation has overwhelming public support. Pollsters found 9 in 10 (87%) people believe workers should have a legal right to sick pay from their employer.* ICTU will continue our engagement with TDs and Senators as the Bill makes its passage through the Oireachtas to ensure any unintended consequences are ironed out and that new scheme is fit for purpose.”

Ms. King said: “Having won agreement to introduce statutory sick pay, our priority is now to ensure that the design of the new scheme will improve working conditions and protect workers’ health and income, without undermining or displacing current collectively agreed sick pay schemes.”

ENDS

See ICTU quick guide to The State of Sick Pay in Ireland here: https://www.ictu.ie/download/pdf/ictu_the_state_of_sick_pay_sept_2020.pdf

* (September 2020) Ireland Thinks monthly poll