Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has told the Seanad that proposals by the Minister for Social Protection to transfer sick pay costs for the first 2-4 weeks to employers would place an additional and unjust burden on Irish businesses.
Senator Ó Domhnaill raised the issue this week while moving an adjournment debate in the Seanad on the matter. He said that in particular, smaller and medium sized enterprises will be under pressure at a time when many employers are struggling to exist.
Ó Domhnaill said: “The proposals put forward by Minister Joan Burton would have a major negative impact on job sustainability and, in turn, a negative impact on economic recovery.
“Data from the National Competitiveness Council shows that the cost of doing business in Ireland remains higher than the Euro Area and the EU27 averages. Therefore, the idea that introducing this change would somehow bring Ireland into line with other EU countries is a very narrow minded, anti-jobs and indeed flawed view being expressed by this Government.
“It is very important at this economically challenging time for the Government to support jobs and employers and, therefore, this current proposal. If implemented, it would create irreversible damage and would drive some struggling businesses to the point of closure and hence genuine employees would ultimately lose their jobs.”
In response on behalf of the Minister for Social Protection, Minister of State, Seán Perry, said the scheme is being considered in the context of the need to reform the social welfare system to bring it into line with practices in other countries in this area.
He said the Social Insurance Fund would, of course, continue to provide supports for extended periods of illness.
“All of the issues around statutory sick pay will be discussed in the course of the wider process associated with the preparation of Budget 2013 and any decisions which might be taken by Government on the possible introduction of such a scheme will be considered in that context,” he said.
Senator Ó Domhnaill concluded by saying: “The Government response to the adjournment debate is very disappointing and shows very little regard for job creation or job retention. Employers are already making a contribution for sick pay by paying social insurance contributions.”