At some stage, during the course of your employment, you may have to take sick leave for a few days, weeks, months or even years. Employees are often unsure as to whether they are entitled to be paid for their sick leave.

In Ireland, there is no statutory entitlement to paid sick leave, which many employees may be unaware of until they go on sick leave. Therefore, it is at the employer’s discretion as to whether they decide to implement a paid sick leave scheme or not. However, that being said, if an employer has an established practice of paying their staff while they are on sick leave then the employer has created a precedent in the workplace and may face difficulties if they subsequently try to change that position.

It should also be noted that if your employer has a discretionary sick pay scheme, and refuses to pay you while you are on sick leave but has paid other colleagues when they were out on sick leave, you may be able to bring a discrimination complaint against your employer for their failure to pay you while on sick leave.

If your workplace does have a paid sick leave scheme then you should check your Contract of Employment, and any policies related to sick pay, to establish how long you are entitled to be paid while you are on sick leave, as your employer may have set a restriction on the length of time to which you are entitled to be paid while on sick leave.

If your workplace does not have a paid sick leave scheme then you may apply for Illness Benefit, if you have enough social insurance contributions. If you do not have enough social insurance contributions, you should contact the Department of Social Protection’s representative (formerly the Community Welfare Officer) at your local health centre who will assess your situation. If you are entitled to sick pay, your employer will probably require you to sign over any Illness Benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection to your employer for as long as the sick pay continues.

If you are not sure about your sick leave entitlements, or if you have any other queries about your legal entitlements in the workplace, then please don’t hesitate to contact me.