Sick leave and sick pay

Gemma O'Connor - Head of Service

April 26 2024

Sickness can happen at any time, especially as people start to lower their guard and with dramatic swings in weather that can happen with the change of the season.

To keep employers prepared year-round, here we offer our best essential tips for sick leave and sick pay...

Sick leave legislation in Ireland

Ireland’s first statutory sick pay scheme was announced in 2022 and came into effect in 2023 with the Sick Leave Act.

Since then, employees have been entitled to five days of paid sick leave per year. This increased from three days in 2023 and is currently slated to increase again to seven days in 2025.

Further, any unused sick leave expires at the end of the calendar year, and the rate of pay (70% of gross daily pay, capped at €110 a day) is calculated depending on the average earnings of each individual employee.

All employees can avail of the scheme, though to do so, they must have completed a 13 weeks’ service requirement for the employer.

Workplace sick leave and sick pay

Along with the existence of statutory sick leave, companies may also create their own sick leave policy.

Employers can decide on sick leave and sick pay policy, along with all other policies and terms and conditions. These should be given to the employee within two months of the commencement of employment.

It’s crucial that this policy sets out the procedure to be followed if an employee is out sick.

Best practice states that this policy should contain information on whether sick leave will be paid by the employer or not, set out who the employee needs to contact and when this contact should be made, e.g. you should notify your direct manager by phone call prior the time you would normally start work.

The employee should explain the nature of their illness and when they expect to be back to work.

The policy should also set out when the employee is expected to provide medical certification e.g. after three consecutive days absent due to illness, the employee must provide the employer with a sick certification from a medical practitioner. This cert should state how long the employee will be absent for.

Unauthorised absences

It's important to monitor that these procedures are followed by the employee. If the employee doesn't follow these procedures correctly, it may be categorised as an unauthorised absence and will subsequently be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Unauthorised absences occur, for example, where the employee doesn't contact their direct manager in the timeframe set out in the employee handbook. Or it may be that they don't provide a sick cert in the time set out in the policy.

Upon an employee’s return from an authorised absence due to illness, employers should conduct a return-to-work interview with the employee.

Details of this interview should also be set out in the policy. These meetings are important, as management can uncover if the employee is having any problems, resulting in the absence, which the company can help the employee with.

Providing this support to the employee may prevent more absences due to illness in the future.

Need our help?

For further complimentary advice on sick leave and pay from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on at 1800 719 216.

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