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Sick Leave And Parental Leave (Covid-19) Bill 2020

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Helen McEntee T.D., in an announcement on 23rd September 2020, welcomed the Sick Leave and Parental Leave (Covid-19) Bill 2020 (the “Bill”) which introduces mandatory sick pay to be paid by employers at the normal weekly rate of pay. It also provides for an extension of force majeure parental leave where a child’s school/childcare is closed due to an outbreak of Covid-19.

Section 2 of the Bill entitles an employee for 6 weeks of paid sick leave due to illness or injury after the expiry of the first 4 weeks of that employment. This entitlement ceases after the completion of the said 6 weeks of sick leave or after completion of sick leave amounting to 30 days in total in any 12 month period.  After the expiry of this sick leave period, the employee will move on to Illness Benefit.  The Bill provides for an employee with an entitlement to take a claim to the Workplace Relation Commission where an employer fails to make such sick leave payment.

The Parental Leave Act 1988 and the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006 provide for Force Majeure leave, which is a short period paid leave for urgent family situations for a maximum of three days in any 12-month period and five days in a 36-months period. The Bill proposes to amend Section 18 to provide that an employee who is required to be present at home to take care of a child due closure of recognised schools or pre-school services will be entitled to paid Force Majeure Leave. This leave will commence and continue for as long as the child concerned is unable to attend the recognised school or pre-school service concerned and such employee’s presence is required at home to care for that child.

The Minister noted that the Bill does not take account of the possible work-from-home arrangements which would impact on this Bill. The Government has proposed detailed consultation with Employers and Unions to look further into this.

This Bill is of grave concern to employers, particularly smaller businesses, who are already struggling to pay employees.

The Bill is currently at Second Stage, before Dáil Éireann.

Link –https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2020/28/#:~:text=Bill%20entitled%20an%20Act%20to,and%20to%20provide%20for%20connected

Authors – Anne O’Connell & Chaitra Girish Mallya

30th September 2020

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

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www.aocsolicitors.ie

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