Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (135)

Finian McGrath


133 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding statutory sick pay. [35550/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

I am aware of the concerns raised in the correspondence to the Deputy that transferring responsibility for the payment of employees' sick pay to employers will add to the cost of doing business. I have received similar views from a number of business organisations and individuals on the matter.

The Government is concerned about the extent of dependence on State-funded sickness benefit schemes and we need to examine ways in which to reduce this dependence. The Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, who has policy responsibility for the sick pay scheme, held a consultative meeting earlier this year to discuss potential changes to the scheme in Ireland. However, no decision has yet been taken on the matter.

Proposals for a statutory sick pay scheme would impact on competitiveness and employment. The evidence of this impact will need to be weighed against the potential for savings in terms of reduced absence due to sickness. I will therefore carefully scrutinise any proposals which develop from this consultation phase and their impact on jobs and competitiveness, and I will contribute fully to the Budgetary process within Government.

In the meantime, along with my Government colleagues, I am actively addressing a number of specific cost issues affecting business — and particularly small businesses — through the Action Plan for Jobs. These include reforming the statutory wage setting mechanisms, and encouraging professional service providers to supply price quotations in advance of providing services. I have also been examining the potential for Government Departments and agencies to reduce or freeze their charges to business. A number of Departments and agencies have agreed to reduce or freeze a range of charges arising from this exercise.