Statutory Sick Pay in Ireland

Here in Ireland  –  there is currently no statutory sick pay. However – this will change from 2022.

An employee in Ireland currently 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 do 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 at the time that the introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme in Budget 2013 would have damaging consequences on growth and jobs.

Update – May 2021

The Sick Leave Bill 2021 is now on the list of 43 bills that are due to be prioritised by the government this summer.
The proposed bill will gradually bring in statutory sick pay – starting with just three days per annum in 2022 , rising to 5 days in 2023 , seven days in 2024, before reaching the maximum of ten days each year in 2025.
The employers will have to pay sick leave of at least 70% of an employee’s wage.
However – the statutory sick leave payment will be capped at a daily rate of €110 . Employers will not have to pay more than this.
(ANyone earning over €40,889 will get the maximum sick pay of €110 per day) .
The scheme will not interfere with any existing, more favourable, sick pay schemes that are in place. Employers can opt to pay more than the statutory sick pay if they wish.
the entitlement for payment of sick pay will be subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of six months.

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.
  •  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 2021

  • In 2021 – 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
  •  €38 for each child under 12 years of age
  •  €45 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.