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Statutory sick pay must be fair for workers and employers – Varadkar

The tanaiste has launched a public consultation on Government plans for new laws to give employees the legal right to be paid when they are ill.


Leo Varadkar (PA)

Leo Varadkar (PA)

Leo Varadkar (PA)

Introducing statutory sick pay in Ireland will not place an undue cost burden on employers, the Tanaiste has insisted.

Leo Varadkar said any scheme must protect low paid and vulnerable workers as well as being fair and affordable for businesses.

Mr Varadkar’s comments came as he launched a public consultation on the Government’s plans for new laws to give employees the legal right to sick pay.

“Ireland is one of only a small number of European countries in which there is no legal obligation on employers to provide for sick pay, in the way they do annual leave for example,” he said.

“This needs to change and I am committed to introducing a statutory sick pay scheme that works for employees and employers as quickly as possible.”

Mr Varadkar, who is minister for enterprise, trade and employment, said while many employers do provide for sick pay, there was no provision in law compelling them to do so.

He said the result was many low-paid and vulnerable workers being left exposed when they become unwell.

The Government has said it will enact statutory sick pay legislation in Ireland by the end of 2021.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged it had been a difficult year for employers, having had to contend with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and looming prospect of Brexit.

“The scheme must be designed so that it protects employees, particularly low paid and vulnerable workers, but it also needs to be fair and affordable for employers, many of whom have faced great difficulties this year,” he said.

“I encourage employers and employees alike to engage with this consultation and make their views known.”

The consultation will be open from November 16 to December 18.

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