I am acutely conscious of the pressures facing employers in the current economic climate with regard to employment retention and costs to business.
In relation to the possible introduction of a scheme of statutory sick pay, a range of complex issues need to be addressed before any decision could be taken by Government on the matter. These include the extent of coverage; the duration of payment; the rate of payment; compensation mechanisms for employers where appropriate; and how to ensure that a scheme of statutory sick pay would be enforced and policed.
The impact of introducing a statutory sick pay scheme would be contingent on how all of these issues are addressed and how such a scheme would ultimately be structured but a preliminary analysis based on estimates of absenteeism in the private sector indicates that if a sick pay scheme with a duration of four weeks were to be introduced, it would add about €1 per week per employee to the costs of employment.
I can assure the Deputy that all of the issues around statutory sick pay will be discussed in the course of the wider process associated with the preparation of Budget 2013 and any decisions which might be taken by Government on the possible introduction of such a scheme will be considered in that context.