The Dáil will this week debate a Fianna Fáil motion calling on the Government to scrap foolish plans to push the entire cost of four weeks’ sick pay directly onto businesses.

The Private Members Motion, tabled by the party’s Jobs Spokesperson Dara Calleary, accuses the Minister of Social Protection Joan Burton of using flawed and misleading information to justify a new mandatory sick pay scheme that will cost jobs.

Deputy Calleary explained, “A statutory sick pay scheme, as planned by this Government, can only lead to higher employment costs for the 200,000 small businesses in this country that employ more than 655,000 people.  To impose higher costs on SMEs at a time of an escalating credit crisis in the sector can only mean one thing: job losses.”

A survey published last week by ISME showed that 96% of SMEs anticipate job losses if Minister Burton proceeds with her mandatory sick pay scheme. A Chambers Ireland survey this week echoed these fears, with nearly 90% of employers saying an increase in employers’ share of PRSI would have a negative impact on their business.

Deputy Calleary said, “Viable small businesses across the country are already being strangled by a deepening credit crisis in the sector. They simply do not have the flexibility to absorb the kind of changes that Minister Burton wants to impose. The threat alone of having to bear the cost of employee sick pay is already affecting employment.  Many businesses say they are holding off on recruitment until they know whether Minister Burton will press ahead with her plan in Budget 2013.  

“Employers and employees already contribute significantly to the social welfare bill through the PRSI system. In 2010 employers paid €5 billion, or 75%, of the total contributions to the Social Insurance Fund.  It is completely unacceptable to place further social welfare costs onto struggling businesses and to make it even more expensive for them to retain and hire staff.

“I am calling on Deputies from all sides of the house to think carefully of the small businesses in their own communities that provide valuable and necessary employment in these difficult times. I want them to stand up for those businesses by backing this motion and saying no to Minister Burton’s damaging plans on sick pay.”