The Government has decided to delay a decision on a bill on the provision of Covid-19 sick pay for six months.
The Labour bill would provide access to sick pay for everyone who has to take days off due to a positive or suspected case of Covid-19. However, the Government wants to take six months to consider the implication that statutory sick pay would have for businesses.
Labour leader Alan Kelly described the decision as “frankly stupid”: “I heard from the response from your Cabinet meeting today that you’re proposing a six month review of the bill we’re bringing in tomorrow in relation to sick pay and parental leave.
“That’s frankly stupid. This is a Covid measure. Six months, I mean is this a laugh.”
The Dáil was due to debate the bill that would entitle all employees to sick pay tomorrow. The bill also allows for leave for parents whose children have to stay home due to Covid-19.Mr Kelly said the bill would provide important protection for workers: “We believe that the lack of sick pay, where we’re one of only five countries in the EU, is a real issue as regards people in… precarious employment whereby they have faced with an uneviable option – if they don’t go to work, they don’t get paid.”
It comes as trade unions have said that private sector employers are “underpaying” their workers as there is no legal right to sick pay in the country.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has said it is time for legislation to guarantee minimum sick pay terms. Earlier this month, Meat Industry Ireland said the matter was off the table in talks with unions on Covid-19 safety, after outbreaks in its members’ plants.
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