An employee in Ireland has no statutory right to be paid while on sick leave. It is therefore at the discretion of the employer to decide whether to provide sick pay and sick leave. Under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 and 2001 an employer must provide an employee with a contract of employment. The contract must include information on the incapacity to work due to sickness or injury. Thus where an employee is concerned about whether they are entitled to sick pay or leave they should first consult their employment contract
If the terms of the contract of employment do not include an entitlement to sick pay, you may still be entitled to Illness Benefit if you have enough social insurance contributions. Even where you do not have enough social insurance contributions you may still be granted Illness Benefit if your Community Welfare Officer determines that you require it.
If you are entitled to sick pay, your employer will probably require you to sign over any Illness Benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection to your employer for as long as the sick pay continues. This serves to reduce the cost of sick pay for the employer.
Sometimes a contract of employment will place a maximum period of sick pay entitlement in a stated period, for example, one month’s sick pay in any 12-month period. There may also be rules put in place by the employer where an employee is sick and is unavailable for work. For example, if you are sick and unavailable for work, you may have to contact a specified person by a certain time. Your employer can also require you to provide a medical certificate if you are out sick for more than a certain number of consecutive days.
In some circumstances, where an employee has consistently been absent from work (or if through illness is no longer capable of continuing work), employment may be terminated. Employees are protected in certain circumstances in this instance through the the Unfair Dismissals legislation.
As already stated if you are concerned whether you are enitled to sick pay or sick leave you should firstly consult your contract of employment. If your contract of employment states that you are entitled to sick pay but your employer disputes this you can make a complaint aginst him/her under the Paymant of Wages Act.
Sick leave and annual leave
If you are ill during your annual leave and have a medical certificate for the days you were ill, these sick days will not be counted as annual leave days. Instead, you can use these days as annual leave at a later date.
An employer cannot require you to take annual leave for a certified period of illness. However, illness during the leave year will reduce the total number of hours worked by you and may therefore affect your entitlement to annual leave.