Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, has called on Minister Joan Burton to immediately clarify whether businesses with less than 100 employees will be burdened with the first four-weeks of sick pay.
Last November Minister Burton announced plans to force employers to pay the first four weeks of sick-pay rather than the state. The move would have landed businesses with illness benefit costs of between €23 million and €89 million, which Fianna Fáil had robustly opposed. However, the Minister is reported to have told Early Childhood Ireland that small crèches and childcare facilities would be exempt from these proposals.
“In recent weeks we watched as Minister Burton appeared to quietly slip through confirmation that the burden of paying the first four weeks of sick-pay will now not be imposed on businesses with 100 employees or less,” said Deputy O’Dea.
“However, when pressed, her spokespeople are rowing back claiming that it has yet to be officially decided upon. The conflicting reports coming from the Department serve only to create confusion and distress for small businesses.
“In the absence of a proper explanation from the Minister, we are drawn to one of two conclusions – either the Minister has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown and is hoping no one will notice, or she is simply not on top of her brief.
“While the decision to scrap the levy on smaller businesses would be a welcome development, why hasn’t this been officially announced by the Government? We’ve seen this Government claim even the smallest achievement as major breaking news – surely a welcome change-of-mind like this should be shouted from the rooftops? Minister Burton’s original plan, that all companies would be forced to pick up this tab, left many employers around the country genuinely terrified about the future. Now that she has supposedly changed her mind, the Minister should be making it clear to these organisations that they will not be targeted and explain why.”