Statutory Sick Pay in Ireland

Here in Ireland  –  there is no statutory sick pay.

An employee in Ireland has no legal right under employment law to be paid whilst on sick leave. It is at the discretion of employers to decide policy on sick pay and sick leave, subject to the employee’s contract or terms of employment.

But – the government will pay Illness Benefit to most people who are off work sick – and some employers will top this up to the full wage for a specified period of time.


Budget 2013 was expected to see the introduction of a Statutory Sick Pay scheme to make employers pay for the first four weeks of sick pay. But it never happened. Employers group IBEC claimed that the introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme in Budget 2013 would have damaging consequences on growth and jobs.


Update – November 2020

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is conducting a public consultation on the introduction of a statutory right to paid sick leave for all employees. More details here. Closing date for submissions is Dec 18th 2020


Sick Pay in the Irish Public Sector

Civil Servants and Teachers in Ireland have a pay scheme that provides for the payment of the following to staff during absence from work due to illness or injury:

  • A maximum of 92 days (13 weeks) on full pay in a rolling one year period
  • Followed by a maximum of 91 days (13 weeks) on half pay in a rolling one year period
  • Subject to a maximum of 183 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period

COVID-19 Update – Public Servants – Any special leave with pay granted for the purpose of self-isolation or any diagnosis of COVID-19 will not be counted as part of public service / civil service employees sick leave record.

Private Sector Sick Pay

A 2019 survey of private sector employers found that only 44% had a sick pay top up scheme. Most large employers will pay full pay for a certain number of weeks of sickness.


Illness Benefit

If an employee is not entitled to sick pay from their employer – they can claim  Illness Benefit (If they have paid enough PRSI ) . Sick employees must normally apply for Illness Benefit within 7 days of becoming ill. No payment is made for the first 6 days of illness. (Details of Illness Benefit rates later). See the New rules on Illness Benefit for Coronavirus


Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of:

  • 2 years (624 payment days) if you have at least 260 weeks of PRSI  contributions paid since you first started work.
    OR
  •  1 year (312 payment days)- if you have between 104 and 259 weeks of PRSI paid since you first started work

Whether your employer pays you or not while you are off sick , you should claim Illness Benefit from the first day of your illness. 

You may be entitled to PRSI credited contributions for each week you are ill. These could help you qualify for future social welfare payments.

If you do get sick pay from work, you should ask your employer what administrative arrangements are in place while you are claiming Illness Benefit.

Illness Benefit is subject to PAYE only, it is not subject to USC or PRSI. Since 1st January 2018, employers are no longer required to tax Illness Benefit through the payroll. Instead, Revenue will adjust the employee’s tax credits and cut off points

Illness Benefit Rates 2020

  • In 2020 – the top rate of Illness Benefit for someone earning €300 or more per week is  €203 a week . Rates are lower if your earnings are below €300 a week. (See Here)
  • Coronavirus – the personal rate of Illness Benefit will be €305 per week for up to 2 weeks if you are medically required to self-isolate, or for the duration of your medically-certified absence from work with a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Illness Benefit is topped up by

  •  €134.70 for a dependant partner/spouse and
  •  €34 for each child under 12 years of age
  •  €37 for each child aged 12 years and over.

Usually, no payment is made for the first 6 days of illness and no payment is made for any Sunday during your illness. (This 6-day wait is being dropped for Coronavirus related cases)

You can get an Illness Benefit claim form (IB1) and a social welfare medical certificate (MED1) from your family doctor (GP). You fill out the IB1 claim form and your doctor completes the MED1 medical certificate.

UK Sick Pay

In the UK , workers can get up to £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are too ill to work. It’s paid by employers for up to 28 weeks. Many employers top this up to full pay for a limited number of weeks.