Sick pay from employers is not a statutory entitlement. It is up to the employer to decide whether or not to pay employees while they are out of work sick (once all employees are treated equally). Employers are obliged to provide details of their sick pay policy in employment contracts.

During times of incapacity or illness the employee can apply to the Department of Social Protection for Illness Benefit (once the employee has paid enough in PRSI contributions he or she should be entitled to Illness Benefit).

If it is Company policy to continue to pay employees while they are ill or incapacitated, the employer often requires that the employee signs over any State Illness Benefit received to the Company.

A Budget 2014 announcement confirmed today (15th October, 2013) that the number of
“waiting days” for Illness Benefit will be increased from 3 days to 6 days from 1st January 2014.

What this means is that an employee will not be entitled to receive Illness Benefit for the first 6 days of any period of incapacity for work. This is more than one full working-week.

This has the potential to significantly affect a large number of people – employees and employers alike. The extension, which is said to save the state €22million, will negatively impact employees who work for companies that do not pay for sick leave – doubling the number of days that must elapse before they are entitled to receive any income.

The decision will also have an impact on companies who continue to pay employees during periods of illness or incapacity but recover some of the costs of doing so by forcing employees to sign over any State Illness Benefit received as, from January of next year, the employer will not now receive any refund for the first 6 days of absence.

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