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Burton puts forward plan to make employers pay for sick leave

The proposals, which would see employers pay for the first four weeks of sick leave, are being discussed at a forum today.

JOAN BURTON HAS put Government plans to make employers pay for sick leave to a consultative forum today.

Under the statutory measures proposed by the Minister for Social Protection, employers could be required to cover wages for the first four weeks that workers are off sick. Currently, the bill for those four weeks is footed by the State.

The forum, held at the Department of Justice and Equality, aimed to examine the “feasibility and potential impacts of introducing a statutory sick-pay scheme”, according to a statement from Joan Burton’s department.

Burton’s Labour party colleague Gerald Nash TD today welcomed the proposals, saying: “It is no longer sustainable or affordable for the taxpayer to foot the burden of illness benefit in this country.”

He said the current arrangement meant there was little incentive for employers to tackle absenteeism. The current rate of seven per cent costs taxpayers almost €1billion a year. Nash added:

Before the introduction of a statutory sick-pay scheme in the Netherlands, 8% of the workforce would be out on sick leave on any given day. Since the inception of an employer funded scheme, the Dutch rate has halved to 4%. This has led to productivity and profitability gains.

Employers have criticised Burton’s proposals, saying they would lead to job losses and a loss of competitiveness.

More: Mandatory sick pay “will lead to job losses and absenteeism”>

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Michael Freeman

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