Paid sick leave is set to increase from three to five days on 1 January 2024, in line with the Government’s commitment to gradually increase statutory sick leave entitlements for employees up to 10 days in 2026.
Announcing the new sick leave arrangements, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Neale Richmond, said: “We do not want workers to feel that they must attend work when they are sick due to financial fears. Paid sick leave is an important workers’ right which provides protection to employees who are genuinely unable to work due to ill health or injury. Lower paid workers who cannot afford to miss work when sick stand to benefit the most from this increase to five days paid sick leave.
“Workers who have more favourable sick pay from their employer will not be impacted as this scheme provides a minimum level of protection for workers. The move to five days sick leave is the second stage of our four-year plan which will see employer-paid sick leave rise to 10 days in 2026. This gradual increase in paid sick leave gives employers time to adjust and to plan for its introduction, but also gives workers certainty about their own rights.”
Paid sick leave ensures that all employees are entitled to a minimum level of financial compensation if they are unable to work due to illness or injury. Workers will be entitled to up to five days of sick leave in a year, paid at 70% of gross earning, up to a cap of €110.
It is intended to provide sick pay coverage to those employees, often in low-paid and precarious roles, who do not have access to a company sick leave scheme. The scheme offers a floor level of protection and does not interfere with existing, more favourable, sick pay schemes.
“Although the Government is acutely aware that small businesses are concerned with the overall cost of doing business, the solution is not to dilute workers’ rights but to provide targeted measures to support businesses,” noted the Minister.
The Sick Leave Act 2022 commenced on 1 January 2023. The statutory entitlement to sick leave, which is being rolled out as part of a four-year plan , was initially set at three days per year in 2023, rising incrementally to 10 days by 2026. Once an employee has exhausted their entitlement to employer-paid sick leave, they should move onto illness benefit, if eligible.