The Government is currently drafting the Sick Leave Bill 2021 which will make it mandatory for employers in Ireland to provide Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for employees. The sick pay scheme aims to ensure that every worker in the private sector will have the security and peace of mind of knowing that if they fall ill and miss work, they will not lose out on a full day’s pay.
Currently, there is no legal obligation on employers in Ireland to pay employees who are on sick leave, and it is up to the discretion of each employer. At present, employees in companies who do not offer sick pay can apply for Illness Benefit after 3 days of illness. Different rates apply depending on the employee’s earnings - the maximum for those earning over €300 is €203 per week. COVID-19 had a particular impact on those employees in companies where sick pay was not provided and highlighted the fact that Ireland is one of just three remaining countries in the EU not to have introduced a Statutory Sick Pay Scheme.
See statement from Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar:
“Ireland is one of the few advanced countries in Europe not to have a mandatory sick pay scheme, and although about half employers do provide sick pay, we need to make sure that every worker, especially lower-paid workers in the private sector, have the security and peace of mind of knowing that if they fall ill and miss work, they won’t lose out on a full day’s pay. I believe this scheme can be one of the positive legacies of the pandemic as it will apply to illness of all forms and not just those related to COVID-19.”
The plan is to introduce SSP over a 4-year period commencing January 2022.
The initial plan is as follows:
The rate of pay will be calculated on 70% of the employee’s wages (subject to a daily maximum of €110). Employees will need to provide a medical certificate to qualify and they must be in that employment for a minimum period of 6 months before they can qualify.
The daily earnings threshold of €110 is based on 2019 mean weekly earnings of €786.33 and equates to an annual salary of €40,889.16. It can be revised over time by ministerial order in line with inflation and changing incomes.
Once entitlement to sick pay from their employer ends, employees who need to take more time off may qualify for Illness Benefit from the Department of Social Protection subject to PRSI contributions.
Employers will need to prepare for this new legislation and update Contracts of Employment and company policies accordingly. Check out our sister product, Bright Contracts, which can help you keep contracts of employment and staff handbooks up to date with changing legislation.
Please note that the above plan has not yet been legislated on and is subject to change.
The new hourly rate represents an increase of 50c on the previous figure and is the second increase to the minimum wage since 2011. Alongside the hourly pay increase, employer PRSI thresholds are being adjusted from 1 January to ensure that an increased PRSI burden does not fall on minimum wage employers.
Minimum Wage for Trainees:
Employee aged over 18, in structured training during working hours
Creditors will be allowed to apply to the District Court for debts to be recovered by either attachment of earnings or deductions from social welfare payments under the terms of a Bill to be published by the Government recently.
The Minister's statement said the new Bill seeks to implement a number of recommendations of a 2010 Law Reform Commission report and provides access to new district court procedures to deal with certain debts where debtors "won't pay".
The debts covered are above €500 and less than €4,000 in value.
The statement says a creditor will continue to be obliged to obtain a judgment debt order from the district court, which establishes that there is an enforceable debt.
However, the new Bill will add he possibility of getting a district court to enforce the debt by means of either attachment of earnings or deductions from social welfare payments, as appropriate.
Ms Fitzgerald said the new options will be primarily of use to small businesses, tradespeople and the self-employed and utilities like Irish Water trying to recover debts from those who can afford to pay, but won't pay Consumer debts owed to financial institutions or licensed moneylenders and arising from loans are excluded. She said there are also very specific court-based protections for debtors who cannot pay.
New mothers would be able to gift two weeks of their maternity leave to their child’s father under legislation being considered by the government. Kathleen Lynch minister of state at the Department of Justice said it is “actively” working on proposals to allow fathers to share some of the statutory 26 weeks leave given to mothers. Another option being considered is allowing parents to “step in and out” of the 26 weeks leave, to allow them to share the time more equally. “We hope to have serious proposals prepared before end of 2014” says Lynch. – “in terms of the bill itself, we would be ensuring the power to decide on the parental leave is always vested in the mother.
The Justice Department has had discussions with interested parties such as employer’s representatives, women’s groups, and other government departments. She said many people had expressed concerns at the implications of introducing paternity leave, such as the cost for employers and reduction of maternity leave for women.
Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerald said she was in favour of increasing maternity leave to 52 weeks over a five year period. She also wants fathers to share in this leave. This would bring Ireland in line with Britain. There a woman is entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave while the father gets up to two weeks leave when the child is born and can also share up to 26 weeks of the mother’s leave when she returns to work. A Paternity Leave bill is before the Seanad at the moment.
The Revenue Commissioners are to give individuals who have not paid the property tax or household charge until the end of March to comply with the levies.
The tax authority said there is now a six-week window for people to pay the outstanding amounts before interest and penalties will apply.
People who have undervalued their property or claimed an exemption which they are not entitled to also have to regularise their position by 31 March.
Revenue says it will begin its compliance campaign from the beginning of April.
People who have not complied by 31 March will have interest back dated to 1 July 2013. It will charge tax of 8% per annum.
"Penalties will apply to those who seriously do not comply with us," said the Revenue's project manager Vivienne Dempsey.
She added that 460,000 properties had not paid the household charge. Some of these may be entitled to an exemption.
However, 242,000 properties have workers in the properties who will now be subject to mandatory deductions from their pay at source.
If you have not yet paid your LPT, you can contact Revenue at 1890 200 255 to arrange to do so. If you undervalued your property, you can self-correct this valuation and pay the additional liability by March 31st by using its online service.
There are a wide range of benefits that Irish taxpayers can claim for:
Medical Expenses: Tax relief granted at standard rate of 20%- that’s €10 back for every €50 for doctors and consultants’ fees and prescribed medicines. Relief can also be claimed for a number of other less obvious items, for example - the cost of special diabetic or celiac food products subject to a letter from your doctor.
College Fees: Tax relief is available on fees paid for qualifying third-level courses with the relief applied at a rate of 20% - excluding examination fees, registration fees and administration fees. The first €2,500 of any fees paid in 2013 do not qualify – effectively this means that tax relief will only be available for families with more than one child attending college.
Flat Rate Expenses: People working in certain occupations, such as nurses for example, are entitled to a fixed rate expense allowance to cover the costs of uniform. Flat rate expenses can be deducted from your income before it is taxed. For example nurses who are required to provide and launder their own uniforms are granted a deduction of €733 while shop assistants are entitled to a deduction of €121 and airline cabin crew are granted €64.00.
Disappearing Reliefs: You have 4 years to make your tax relief claim. This means the earliest year for which you can claim is 2009 even if the relief in question has been abolished.
Relief for Service Charges ceased from January 1 2012 but can still be claimed for 2009, 2010 and 2011. A maximum annual spend of €400 on domestic service charges, including waste, water and sewage is eligible for tax relief at 20%.
Relief on Trade Union subscriptions were abolished in 2011 however you can still claim back to 2009 up to a maximum of €350 per annum.
Rent Relief is to be abolished completely by 2018.
Revenue are now getting tough with those who had failed to file a property return, and officials will not issue refunds to them.
Those who have not filed a property return will not be in a position to reclaim tax refunds for Medical expenses and tuition fees etc..
A spokeswoman for the Revenue said it will eventually issue refunds to those who have yet to register for the property tax, but it will first deduct the tax due from the refund amount.
In general, in advance of issuing a refund, a taxpayer's record will be reviewed to ensure no outstanding liability exists. Where a liability exists, an offset will be made before the refund will be issued.
A new report presented to Social Welfare Minister Joan Burton recommends the PRSI rate for self employed and proprietary directors should go up from current rate of 4% to 5.5% to fund extra social benefits for those who work for themselves.
The higher PRSI rate would be used to fund the paying of long-term illness and disability benefits for the self employed, which are not available to those who work for themselves at the moment.
However, the higher PRSI payment that the advisory group recommends for all the self-employed to pay for disability benefits, is set to be opposed by business group ISME The report also states that it would provide a safety net for those who want to start a business.
The cabinet has approved publication of the report, however it remains unclear if the recommendations will form part of next month's budget.
Below you will find a handy employer’s checklist for a NERA (National Employment Rights Authority) inspection:
1. Do you have your employer’s registration number with the Revenue Commissioners?
2. Have you a list of all your employees together with their PPS numbers and addresses?
3. Have you the dates of commencement of employment for all employees? (And dates of termination if applicable?)
5. Have you the employees’ job classification?
6. Have you a record of their annual leave and public holidays taken by each employee?
7. Have you a record of hours worked for all employees?
8. Have you a record of all payroll details?
9. Can you prove that you provide your employees with a written statement of pay?
10. Have you a record or register of all employees under the age of 18?
11. Have you employment permits where applicable?
12. Have you filled out the template letter details that you will receive from NERA advising you of the inspection?
Is your Business online? If not, the Government is offering Vouchers for €2,500 to assist you! If yes, have you an ecommerce site – is it working for you?
The evidence is that if your company engages in online trading - your business is more likely to grow twice as fast.
The first phase of the state's National Digital Strategy will provide vouchers worth €2,500 to small firms who want to build their presence on the web. The funds will go to 2,000 businesses around the country to help them "prioritize digital, get the resources, training and expertise needed to develop an online trading presence". The Vouchers will be available for redemption in 2014. Watch this space - Thesaurus Software will alert all our customers as to commencement of the application process.
There will be no geographic restrictions on the vouchers, so businesses from across Ireland will be able to apply. Quotas for different areas will not apply.
Some six out of 10 Irish adults now shop online and 61% of consumers plan to increase their online expenditure. However, 73% of this is leaking out of this economy to international vendors. There’s no point in trying to stop that, but what we can do is compete and sell our wares and services online.
The plan also aims to reduce the number of people who don't use the internet – so called non-liners – by 50pc to 288,000 by the end of 2016.
Launching the plan, communications minister Pat Rabbitte said the State needed to focus more on the practical aspects of doing business online. "Governments tend to focus on the engineering side of the internet – building out the hardware. We need to get more small businesses set up for Ecommerce."