Ifac urges Midlands region farmers to prepare for onset of statutory sick pay

New legislation giving employees a statutory entitlement to sick pay is currently making its way through the Oireachtas.

When enacted, the Sick Pay Bill will provide a level of sick pay coverage for employees who currently do not receive sick pay/or are not entitled to illness benefit.

Consequently, ifac, Ireland’s farming, food and agribusiness specialist professional services firm, is advising Midlands region farmers to prepare for statutory sick pay for their employees.

Payment rate and duration

Under the legislation, employers will be required to pay sick pay at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily maximum threshold of €110. The scheme will be phased in over four years, allowing employers to plan for the additional costs they will incur. Initially, employees will be entitled to three days of statutory sick pay per year, rising to five days in 2024, seven days in 2025, and ten days in 2026. These sick days do not have to be consecutive.

Medical certificates

Employees will need to obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay. To be eligible, they will also need to have worked for their employer for a minimum of 13 weeks. If they need additional time off work once the entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, they may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection provided they have sufficient PRSI contributions.

Record keeping

Accurate record-keeping is essential when managing employees. In respect of statutory sick pay, the details to record include the employee’s service history, statutory sick leave dates and the payment made. These records may be needed in the event of a Workplace Relations Commission inspection or investigation. Note that statutory sick leave should not be included as part of annual or any other leave.

Mary McDonagh continued: "Also, farms which already provide paid sick leave for their employees need to check how the new legislation will impact those contracts. The legislation states that employers are not prevented from offering better terms to their employees."

 

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