Sick leave and sick pay
In the past, you had no legal right to be paid while you were on sick leave from work.
Since 1 January 2023, you have a right to 3 days’ sick pay a year. This is called statutory sick pay (that means the legal minimum). Sick pay is paid by your employer at 70% of your normal pay up to a maximum of €110 a day.
You must be an employee and be working at least 13 weeks with your employer before you can get statutory sick pay.
Your employer can have a more generous sick pay scheme, but they can't give you less than the statutory amount.
What is the new Statutory Sick Pay scheme (SSP)?
The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is the legal minimum sick pay.
The entitlement to paid sick leave is being phased in over 4 years:
- 2023 - 3 days covered
- 2024 - 5 days covered
- 2025 - 7 days covered
- 2026 - 10 days covered
Sick days can be taken as consecutive days or non-consecutive days.
The sick pay year is the calendar year, so it runs from 1 January to 31 December.
You can get sick pay of 70% of normal weekly pay, up to a maximum €110 a day – see more about how your sick pay is calculated below.
The rules on the SSP are set out in the Sick Leave Act 2022. The entitlement to sick pay started on 1 January 2023.
Am I entitled to sick pay?
To qualify for statutory sick pay you must:
- Be an employee
- Have worked for your employer for at least 13 continuous weeks before you are sick
- Be certified by a GP as unable to work
You can get sick pay if you are:
- On probation
- Undergoing training (interns)
- An apprentice
- An agency worker
Do I need a medical cert to get sick pay?
Under the sick leave legislation, you must be certified by a GP as unable to work to qualify for statutory sick pay. You should be certified from day 1 of your sick leave.
You have a right to SSP from the first day you are off sick. Your employer cannot apply ‘waiting days’ before you get statutory sick pay.
How is my sick pay calculated?
Your statutory sick leave payment must be paid at your normal daily rate. You are entitled to 70% of your normal pay, up to a maximum €110 a day.
What is normal daily pay?
Your normal daily pay includes any regular bonus or allowance which do not change from week to week (but excludes overtime or commission).
If your pay changes from week-to-week (for example, because of regular bonus payments or allowance), your sick pay is the average of your pay over the 13 weeks before you are on sick leave.
Remember that sick pay is capped at a maximum of €110 a day.
If my employer already has a sick pay scheme
Your employer may offer you more generous sick pay arrangements under its own scheme. If so, your sick leave will be dealt with under that scheme.
That scheme must be more favourable, when viewed as a whole, than the statutory sick pay scheme if it is to apply.
If I am off sick for more than 3 days
If you are off work sick for more than 3 days, and you have enough PRSI contributions, you can apply to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for a payment called Illness Benefit.
If you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you should contact the DSP’s representative at your local health centre. They will assess your situation.
Protection of your employment rights
Your employments rights are protected during sick leave. You are treated as being in employment while you are on sick leave.
What happens if I am off sick during public holidays?
If you work full time and you are on sick leave during a public holiday, you can get sick pay or Illness Benefit for the public holiday you miss.
Alternatively, your employer can treat you as not being on sick leave on the public holiday and pay you as normal for that day. In this case, they will not count the public holiday as a sick leave day.
If you work part-time and you are on sick leave during a public holiday, you are entitled to time off work for the public holiday. You must have worked at least 40 hours over the previous 5 weeks.
You are not entitled to pay or time off for the public holiday if you are on sick leave immediately before the public holiday, and either of the following apply:
- You have been off work for more than 26 weeks due to an ordinary illness or an accident
- You have been off work for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational accident
What happens to my annual leave when I am off sick?
If you are sick during your annual leave and get a medical certificate for the days you are sick, these days will not be counted as annual leave days. An employer cannot insist that you take annual leave on days you are off sick, once you have a medical certificate.
You can build up your annual leave entitlement while you are off sick, once you have a medical certificate.
If you are on long-term sick leave and cannot take your annual leave due to illness, you can carry it over for up to 15 months after the end of the year you built it up. If you leave your job within these 15 months, you should get holiday pay for the day’s leave you did not take due to illness.
If I take sick leave while on probation
Your employer can suspend your probation, training or apprenticeship for the period you are on sick leave. The days can be added onto the end of your probation, training or apprenticeship period.
What can I do if I lose my job?
If you are often off sick or if your illness means you can no longer do your work, you may lose your job. In some cases, the law can protect you from unfair dismissal.
Having problems getting sick pay
If you do not get sick pay, contact your employer to try to resolve the issue informally first.
If you cannot resolve the issue directly with your employer, you can make a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
How to make a complaint to the WRC
If you have a dispute about sick pay, you can make a formal complaint to the WRC. You should use the online complaint form.
You must make your complaint within 6 months of the dispute. The time limit can be extended for a further 6 months if there is reasonable cause for the delay.
Read more about how to make a complaint, including details of the WRC adjudication process.
I was penalised for taking sick pay
You are protected from being victimised or penalised for claiming your rights under sick leave legislation.
This means your employer cannot penalise you by dismissal, unfair treatment or an unfavourable change in your conditions of employment.
If you were penalised, you can take a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Employer exemption from paying sick pay
An employer who is experiencing severe financial difficulties can apply to the Labour Court for an exemption to pay statutory sick pay.
If an exemption is granted, it will be for a period of between 3 to 12 months.
The law on sick leave and sick pay is set out in the Sick Leave Act 2022, the Commencement Order for the Sick Leave Act 2022 and the Sick Leave Act 2022 (Prescribed daily rate of payment) Regulations 2022.
The WRC also has information on Sick Leave.
You can read more about accidents in the workplace.