Huge public support for sick pay shows need for government action now

29 September 2020
  • Ireland Thinks Poll shows 87% support for legal right to sick pay.
  • Dáil to vote on Labour Bill on Wednesday.
  • Government wrong to delay action for at least six months.

With the Dáil due to vote on Labour’s Sick Leave and Parental Leave (Covid-19) Bill on Wednesday, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly highlighted the result of an Ireland Thinks Poll published today showing 87% of the public believe all workers should have a legal right to sick pay, saying the government is wrong to delay action for at least six months and should act on the public health advice it has received.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic will be with us for the next six to nine months, but Irish workers will still have no legal right to paid sick leave. The Labour Party has sought to address this, but instead the government is pursing a delay of at least six months. The State’s own public health experts have highlighted the need for this.

“This bill is about timing, because workers need this protection now and the public clearly understand that urgent need.

“A poll question by Ireland Thinks showed overwhelming public support for the measure. 87% of voters would support a legal right to paid sick leave. Even 80% of Fine Gael voters were on board with the need for change.

“Ireland is one of only five EU countries without a right to sick leave. Many workers have some protection in their contracts, but for many in low paid and precarious work we have seen that there isn’t any cover. Meat Plant workers, childcare workers, those in the tourism and hospitality sector, agency workers in the health service are all examples that need this legal right.

“We also acknowledge that there will be a cost, and some small and medium enterprises will need financial support in tandem with this Bill, particularly during the pandemic. The government must address this at the Budget, and I would call again on TDs in the government parties to reconsider their motion to delay the Labour Bill for six months, and at least introduce some protection now.

“The suggestion of a six-month delay is complete and utter rubbish. When there is an outbreak in a place of low-paid employment and a county goes into lockdown as a result, we are warning those government TDs and Ministers now that they had an opportunity to address this, and will be reminding  people in places where this a lockdown because a low-pay employer did not pay sick pay.”

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