Sick Pay Given Statutory Protection as Sick Leave Bill Passed by Oireachtas


The Sick Leave Act 2022 became law on the 20th July 2022. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, has announced that the Sick Leave Act 2022 will come into force from the 1st of January 2023. This Act will, for the first time, introduce an entitlement for all employees to sick leave paid by their employer in addition to illness benefit from the State.

This legislation will bring Ireland into line with other developed states across Europe who provide statutory protection for those employees who cannot work due to illness.

The need for such legislation was highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic as there remained no legal requirement for employers to pay when an employee was out with an illness.

Speaking about the commencement of the Sick Leave Act, the Tánaiste said:

“Nobody should have to go to work when they are sick for fear of having no income. It’s not good for them or their co-workers. For the first time, there will be an entitlement for almost all employees to paid sick leave. The entitlement is based on the calendar year.

“This is a very important new right for all employees and was a personal priority for me as Minister. Given the current challenging business environment and inflation in particular, I have concluded that the fairest and most appropriate approach is to introduce the entitlement on 1 January 2023.”

What the new Legislation entails:

  • The scheme will be rolled out over 4 years. Employees will be entitled to 3 days’ paid sick leave per year in year one. This will increase to 5 days in year two, 7 days in year three, and 10 days in year four.
  • Employees will receive 70% of their normal daily wage subject to a daily maximum of €110.
  • These provisions can be reviewed at Ministerial level in order to deal with inflation rates and increased incomes over time.
  • The scheme will be enforced through the Workplace Relations Commission and the Irish Courts system.

Requirements for employees in order to qualify:

  • The employee must have worked for the employer for no less than 13 continuous weeks prior to seeking sick pay.
  • An employee seeking to avail of sick pay must have a valid medical certificate (i.e. certified by a GP as unfit to work).

Consequences for the employer:

  • Employers are not to treat differently those who take or apply for sick pay.
  • Employers are advised to review their standard employment contracts urgently.
  • If an employer offers a sick pay scheme which is as favourable as the statutory provision, then the employer is not under any new obligation.
  • If an employer offers a sick pay scheme more favourable than the statutory provision there is no obligation to adjust their existing scheme.
  • If an employer offers a sick pay scheme less favourable than the statutory scheme then it will be “deemed to be so modified” so that it is not less favourable.
  • An employer who cannot afford to pay workers in accordance with the scheme can apply to the Labour Court for an exemption. This exemption will last for a minimum of 3 months and up to 1 year.


The upcoming commencement of the Sick Leave Act 2022 is a further example of Ireland’s commitment to provide a modern statutory framework which will protect the rights of employees. In recent years, the legislature has introduced acts governing paternity benefit, parental leave benefit, enhanced maternity benefit, treatment benefit and the extension of social insurance benefits to the self-employed. The Sick leave Act 2022 will undoubtedly be a significant development in the law protecting workers in this state, particularly those in the low-income sector. The Act aims to not impose any unrealistic obligations on employers through its 4-year implementation period as outlined above. This will give employers sufficient time to plan and budget if they do not have an adequate sick pay scheme in their standard employee contract.

For more information on this topic please contact Patricia Canty of our employment department on 021-7300200 or by email to

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