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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case IE-2022-1/1960 – measures in Ireland

New statutory sick leave from 2022

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2022
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Income protection beyond short-time work
– Paid sick leave
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Case created 13 July 2021 (updated 14 July 2021)

Background information

In late 2020, the Government launched a public consultation on the introduction of statutory sick pay. Ireland is currently one of a few countries in Europe that does not have a mandatory sick pay scheme.

Following this consultation, the Government approved a General Scheme of the Sick Leave Bill in June 2021. Launching the Bill, the Tánaiste said: “I believe this scheme can be one of the positive legacies of the pandemic as it will apply to illness of all forms and not just those related to COVID.”

“I believe this reform is part of the pandemic dividend, the more inclusive economy and fairer society we are going to build once the pandemic is over. It’s not right that people feel forced to go to work when they are sick and it’s not good for public health. I know how difficult the past year and a half has been for workers and employers alike.

We are only now getting back on our feet and are not yet out of woods. By phasing this in over a four-year period, we are taking a balanced approach to plug a well acknowledged gap in our social protections while also responding to the cost concerns of small businesses in the current economic environment. The scheme is designed to be fair and affordable with the minimum complexity and administrative burden for employers.”

Content of measure

The statutory sick pay scheme will be phased in over a four-year period from 2022 as follows:

  • 2022 – 3 days paid sick leave
  • 2023 – 5 days paid sick leave
  • 2024 – 7 days paid sick leave
  • 2025 – 10 days paid sick leave

Statutory Sick Pay will be paid by employers at a rate of 70% of an employee’s wage, subject to a daily threshold of €110.

An employee will have to obtain a medical certificate to avail of statutory sick pay, and the entitlement is subject to the employee having worked for their employer for a minimum of six months.

Use of measure


Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


The social partners contributed to a public consultation on statutory sick pay in late 2020.

Views and reactions

Reacting to the new Sick Pay Bill Ibec Director of Employer Relations, Maeve McElwee said: “The phased introduction of Statutory Sick Pay, together with a service requirement for eligibility are important factors in the development of this new legislation. However, for many businesses the next 12 months will be a critical trading period and additional costs in 2021 will have a heavy impact for those still recovering from COVID-19 and Brexit impacts. This will also be a significant cost for businesses who have a sick pay scheme in place, eliminating as the Scheme proposes, waiting days and the incorporation of illness benefit in existing policies.”

In its submission to the public consultation on statutory sick pay the Small Firms Association (SFA) said it was greatly concerned about the proposed introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme in the current economic circumstances which, SFA believes, would be financially irresponsible and unsustainable. Small firms are at the mercy of the COVID-19 crisis, with Government and local authorities forced to step in to save the futures of thousands of small firms and their employees through grants, loans, and job subsidies.

Responding to the launch of the public consultation on plans to guarantee all workers a right to sick pay, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “It took a pandemic to expose the big failings in how we protect workers against loss of income, the lack of a legal entitlement to sick pay from an employer being one of the most glaring examples.”

“Unlike workers in nearly all European countries, workers in Ireland have no legal right to sick pay. Sick pay is at the discretion of the employer to include or not in a contract of employment. As a result, up to half of the labour force, including hundreds of thousands of low-paid essential workers, don’t receive sick pay and face being financially compelled to work when unwell” she said.

Ms King added: “On foot of ICTU’s work highlighting how Ireland is completely out of line with European norms in not requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, Government has committed to legislating for a new workers’ right to sick pay.”


  • 16 November 2020: ICTU encourage people to have their say on sick pay (
  • 18 December 2020: DETE Statutory Sick Pay Scheme Consultation: Submission on behalf of ICTU (
  • 18 December 2020: Public Consultation on the introduction of a Statutory Sick Pay Scheme (
  • 09 June 2021: Tánaiste announces details of Statutory Sick Pay Scheme (
  • 09 June 2021: Business acknowledges Government announcement on Statutory Sick Pay Scheme (


Eurofound (2021), New statutory sick leave from 2022, case IE-2022-1/1960 (measures in Ireland), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.