THE GOVERNMENT PARTIES have voted down a Fianna Fáil motion which would have seen the Dáil call on the government not to force employers to cover the sick pay requirements of workers.
Fine Gael and Labour successfully forced through a counter-motion which noted that although no such proposals had come to cabinet yet, the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund for 2012 was likely to exceed €1.8 billion.
“The Department is required to secure further savings on it’s [sic] programmes of expenditure in Budget 2013 and subsequent Budgets”, the counter-motion – tabled by social protection minister Joan Burton – read.
“Conscious of the Government’s wish to maintain, as far as possible, vital income supports to the most vulnerable sectors in society, it is necessary for the Government to examine all aspects of Departmental expenditure”, it added.
The FF motion had come after IBEC and Chambers Ireland called on the government not to proceed with plans first mooted earlier this year, when Burton launched a consultation on the possibility of having employers – and not the state – pick up the bill for the first few weeks’ of sick pay.
FF’s Dara Calleary, who had tabled the motion, told the Dáil last night that about 40 per cent of employers in Ireland – mostly smaller ones who have no current sick pay costs – would see their costs substantially increase if they were forced to cover sick pay costs themselves.
He added that even jobs minister Richard Bruton had commented on the difficulties that small businesses would have in paying a sick pay bill – a reason he gave for explaining why the measure wasn’t introduced in Budget 2012.
The counter-motion – amending the FF motion so that it was kinder to the Government – was approved by 70 votes to 45. The motion, as amended, was then approved on a 69-45 margin.