back to national news

Taoiseach needs to follow CMO’s advice on sick pay

02 September 2020

Marie Sherlock

Labour Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Senator Marie Sherlock has called on the Taoiseach to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer on sick pay by supporting The Labour Party’s Sick Pay and Parental Leave Bill that would ensure workers who fall sick would continue to get paid for up to six weeks.

Senator Sherlock said: 

“As my colleague, Deputy Kelly said during Leaders Questions, we cannot have a situation whereby workers are taking paracetamol or calpol to hide a high temperature in order to go to work. No worker should be out of pocket for doing the right thing. In particular, no worker on average or low wages who is struggling to make ends meet should ever have to make the difficult choice between going to work, if sick or staying at home. This crisis is too serious, the risks are too enormous for that to be allowed happen.

“It is not good enough for the Taoiseach to say he will work constructively on the legislation and to then cite the Covid-19 illness benefit as adequate sick pay provision. It is less than half the average weekly private sector wage. The Taoiseach cannot really believe that these measures have properly dealt with the issues surrounding sick people being forced to go to work.

“If the Government are sincere in their wish to engage meaningfully with the legislation, then they need to come off the fence and support our Bill.  Both the Acting C.M.O Dr Ronan Glynn and the CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid have said that people who need to self-isolate should have no fear about their employment and that economic circumstances should not be a barrier to people coming forward and getting tested. The only way to ensure this happens is to legislate to give workers a legal right to sick pay.

“The Taoiseach constantly asks us to follow the advice of public health experts and he really needs to take his own advice on this specific issue and support the Labour Party Bill.

Ultimately, if a system of widespread testing and tracing is to be truly effective, it relies on every employee in this country having a right to paid sick leave from the first day of illness.