Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (62)

Bríd Smith

Question:

62. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will bring forward legislation to ensure workers in meat plants have access to a sick scheme as a safety measure in view of Covid-19 outbreaks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26176/20]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Our employment rights frameworks are horizontal, meaning that any statutory employment right must protect all workers and cannot discriminate on a sectoral or other basis. I have this week announced my intention to examine how a statutory right to sick pay can be delivered to all workers in Ireland in a fair and proportionate manner.

While we do not currently have a statutory right to sick pay in Ireland, it is important to note that sick leave often forms part of the terms and conditions of employment contracts that are offered by employers and agreed by employees on a voluntary basis. Collective bargaining has of course achieved sick leave safety nets for very many workers in Ireland.

We have an Illness Benefit Scheme that is administered by the Department of Social Protection. This scheme has been enhanced in the circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and any employee is entitled to the benefit from the very first day of illness first day of illness allowing employers to comply with medical advice to self-isolate to mitigate the spread of the virus.

I want to reiterate that the Government sees many benefits associated with the introduction of a statutory entitlements for short-term illness for all workers. However, we need to identify the specific problem or challenge that the absence of such an entitlement is creating and the most efficient and fair manner of addressing that challenge.