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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Alamy Stock Photo There is currently no entitlement to bereavement leave under Irish law.
Bereavement leave could be paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in the future
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also said he’d like his remote working law to be enacted by Christmas.

BEREAVEMENT LEAVE COULD be legislated for and paid for out of the Social Insurance Fund, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has suggested.

Currently, employees may be able to take compassionate leave if a close member of their family dies, but it is not set down in law, can depend on your employment contract and is at the employer’s discretion.

Essentially, employers may give force majeure leave if a close family member has died, but employees are not entitled to it under law. 

Varadkar has said it is something that the Government may look to address, stating: 

“I think one of the things we could look at into the future is whether we could have a payment out of the Social Insurance Fund.

So the same way, if people are taking illness leave or maternity leave, they can get some money from the Social Insurance Fund, perhaps we could do something similar, and that wouldn’t impose a cost on employers, but at least would mean that employees wouldn’t lose a day’s pay or two days’ pay.

The Tánaiste acknowledged that in the vast majority of cases where a bereavement leave isn’t specified in somebody’s contract, employers are generally sensitive to the situation.

“If a close family member dies, they often give their employees a bit of time off and they don’t dock their wages. But that’s not a legal right,” he said.

However, the Tánaiste said his immediate focus is measures his department are currently pushing over the line before he rotates out of his ministerial position to becoming Taoiseach again.

He said these include the statutory sick pay for workers, the protection of tips legislation, the additional bank holiday next year, the increase in the minimum wage, and the moving towards a living wage.

“We just want to make sure we do that at a pace that’s not going to undermine business or employment,” he said. 

Remote working legislation

The Tánaiste said the next thing thing on his agenda for the new Dáil term is legislation for the right to request remote working, which he hopes to get published, if not enacted, by Christmas.

The Government’s Right to Request Remote Working Bill was unveiled earlier this year; however, trade unions and opposition politicians heavily criticised the framework, saying it favours business owners over workers and gives employees little room to appeal a decision to refuse their request.

Varadkar told The Journal that his department has the report back from the all-party committee which reviewed the new law, saying:

“I anticipate I’ll be incorporating almost all the recommendations they’ve made. And that then allows us to press ahead with that law.”

When asked when he realistically expects it to be on the statute books, Varadkar said the length it might take to get through the Dáil and the Seanad is out of his control, but said he would like the bill published, ideally, before Halloween.

“If not for Halloween, by Christmas… whoever takes over my role will hopefully get it done by Easter,” he added. 

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