In a statement today People Before Profit said that as concerns about the Covid 19 Virus grow it is now clear that emergency measures are required to protect the income of workers who are told to stay at home either because they might be infected or to look after children whose schools close.
Brid Smith TD said:
“With growing concerns about the virus, we must ensure that people follow advise if they show symptoms or have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid 19, to prevent the spread of the virus. This will involve workers taking time off either because of concerns about their own health or to look after children sent home from school.
“Current provisions for Sickness Benefit are completely inadequate to address the current situation. Workers must be off at least 6 days to get Sickness Benefit and meet requirements for PRSI contributions. Even then levels of payment are low.”
Deputy Smith pointed out that “Ireland is one of a small number of EU countries where sick pay is not ‘state mandated’. In most states, employers continue to pay a salary for a period. In Ireland, payment is at the discretion of the employer in accordance with the employee’s contract. Replacement levels (the amount of your earnings covered when off sick) by the benefits in Ireland is estimated at around 36%, the third lowest in the EU.”
People Before Profit are calling for emergency measures to ensure workers are paid while they off work for reasons related to concerns about the spread of the virus.
At a minimum the waiting period for sick leave and the requirement for PRSI contributions should be lifted. Levels of payment must also be increased.
“Workers should be paid out of the social insurance fund with an emergency tax on all employers and an additional contribution from employers who do not operate a sick scheme for their workers,” according to Bríd Smith
“It is noteworthy that workers required to do Jury Services are fully paid.
“Suggestions that workers should take annual leave to, for example, look after children sent home from school must be rejected. Irish workers have the lowest levels of statutory annual leave in the EU. Measures are also required to support these parents.”
Deputy Smith will be raising this issue in the Dail at the earliest opportunity.