Sick pay schemes and social welfare rights

Companies are not required to provide occupational sick pay schemes for staff. However, if an employee has a contract which includes sick pay entitlement from the employer, then a right to sick pay exists.

Employers in some industries (drapery, electrical contractors, construction for example) are obliged to provide sick pay under long-standing agreements.

With some sick pay schemes, the payment of benefit may start on the first day of absence, or there may be a waiting period of some days.

While some companies may not have formal sick pay schemes, it may actually be custom to pay employees when absent due to illness. However, most companies will require that staff notify them on or before the first day of absence. In most cases, a medical certificate will be required on or after the first day of absence. Follow up certificates will be required if the illness continues for a longer period.

Under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, any day where a person is certified as unfit for work, can not be regarded as a day of annual leave.

Social welfare entitlements

If you can not work due to sickness, you may also be entitled to a range of social welfare payments including: disability benefit, invalidity pension, occupational injury benefit and disablement benefit.

The cost of these is covered by social insurance contributions (PRSI) from employers and employees.

Disability benefit

This is paid for periods when an employee is unfit for work due to illness. It starts on the fourth day and may continue up to 52 weeks where a claimant has paid between 39 and 259 PRSI contributions. Where more contributions have been made, the benefit may continue until age 66 years.

This benefit is subject to tax after the first six weeks. The Department of Social and Family Affairs notifies employers of the amount of disability benefit an employee is entitled to receive while out sick.

Invalidity pension

This is paid instead of Disability benefit where an employee has not be able to work for at least a year. The benefit continues for as long as the employee is permanently unable to work.

Occupational injury benefit

This is paid where an employee is certified as being unable to work due to an injury or disease contracted at work. Payment is made from the fourth day of absence up to 26 weeks, when Disability benefit or disablement benefit may be paid. Occupational injury benefit is subject to tax after six weeks.

Disablement benefit

This is paid where an employee suffers a loss of physical or mental faculty as a result of occupational injury or disease. The payment level depends on the degree of disablement. A lump sum may be paid or, a pension.

For more information on your sick pay entitlements contact the :

Department of Social and Family Affairs at 1890 202 325 or see http://www.welfare.ie/