Galway city councillors passed a motion this week calling on the Government to bring forward legislation requiring all employers by law to make provision for sick leave.
Currently under Irish law, an employer has no obligation to pay staff who are on sick leave and Labour councillor Níall McNelis who proposed the motion at Leisureland on Monday evening told the chamber that Ireland is in the minority in the EU when it comes to not providing sick leave.
He said; "Ireland is only one of five EU countries that doesn't have sick pay. At a time should when nobody be risking themselves to go to work because they are not covered in Covid, we saw what happened with meat workers, I would appeal to the Government parties [to back this motion] because Covid won't go away in six months."
Independent councillor Donal Lyons echoed Cllr McNelis's sentiments by saying; "People in [meat] factories who had Covid symptoms still went to work because they were afraid they were not going to get paid."
However, Fianna Fáil councillor Peter Keane said the reason why the Government had refused to legislate for compulsory sick pay to date was because of "rampant abuses" in the public service.
"There is a reason the Government have kicked this down the road so an expert report can come forward to enforce legislation. There is a reason why this isn't law," he said. "There is rampant abuses of sick leave in the public service and if you are going to foist this on private sector, it better be backed up."
Cllr McNelis's motion also called for a new provision to amend the Parental Leave Act 1998 where an employee is the parent or adoptive parent of a child shall be entitled to force majeure leave where and for so long as the child is unable to attend school, if the presence of the employee is required at their home in order to care for that child.
The motion was carried by Mayor Mike Cubbard's vote after a chamber vote brought a result of seven for, seven against, one abstention with three absent.