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'The pandemic exposed big failings': ICTU calls for mandatory sick pay for all workers

The union said up to half of the labour force, including hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers, do not receive sick pay.

Image: Shutterstock/El Nariz

THE IRISH CONGRESS of Trade Unions has said the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed failings in how the country protects workers against loss of income and has called for the governemnt to introduce mandatory sick pay for all workers.

Speaking ahead of the publication of ICTU’s quick guide to sick pay tomorrow, general secretary Patricia King said:

“It took a pandemic to expose the big failings in how we protect workers against loss of income, the lack of a legal entitlement to sick pay from an employer being one of the most glaring examples.

Ireland is completely out of line with European norms in not requiring employers to continue to pay a worker’s wage if sick and unable to work for a period of time.

“In the club of high-income European countries, of which Ireland is a member, the guaranteed period of paid sick leave is for no less than two weeks and typically paid at 100% the worker’s wage, with one exception.”

Sick pay in Ireland is at the discretion of the employer to include in a contract of employment. There have been calls in recent months for mandatory sick pay policies for certain sectors such as the food processing industry after large Covid-19 clusters were identified. 

King said up to half of the labour force, including hundreds of thousands of low-paid essential workers, do not receive sick pay and “face being financially compelled to keep on working when sick”.

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Tomorrow ICTU will publish its quick guide to sick pay and is contacting all Oireachtas members to call on them to legislate to guarantee all workers an entitlement to sick pay.

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