The Labour Party leader has said it is a “bit of a joke” that the Government needs six months to decide whether a State sick pay scheme should be introduced.
The Government yesterday say it would report back within six months on a Labour proposal that would see workers entitled to up to six weeks Statutory sick leave.
The scheme would also be available to parents who have to self-isolate while their children are sick or awaiting a test.
The party has warned that Ireland is one of only five countries in Europe without a State sick pay scheme – with the COVID-19 outbreak making it more important than ever.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Labour leader Alan Kelly said the country’s top health officials have warned that the lack of sick pay is fuelling the spread of the virus.
They have always said that sick pay is a real issue leading to some people in lower-paid jobs going to work even though they may have symptoms,” he said.
“They are spreading COVID. We know about this in meat factories and we know about it in other sectors as well.”
He said the Labour proposal would bring Ireland in line with its own public health advice.
He said the scheme is needed now, not in six months.
“We don’t have six months,” he said. “It is a bit of a joke to say they are going to go off and consult for six months.
“Really we need this now. We know now that the numbers are beginning to go way up again, the numbers yesterday were really concerning so we really need to ensure we put everything against fighting COVID.
“This is really a common sense thing. It is not overtly political it is something we feel is absolutely necessary and many employers in fairness are doing it already so we just want to ensure that the other employers do it as well.”
Pandemic Unemployment Payment
Deputy Kelly also criticised the decision to wind down the Pandemic Unemployment Payment – warning that we are now facing into a “six months of very tough times.”
“We are now facing into a very, very difficult period for lots of different people so I think it s was premature and I would like the Government to revisit it,” he said.
He said claims that people were earning more on the payment than they were while working are “by and large overstated” and said the potential for overpayment is not a “good enough reason not to try and support people through this difficult period that is coming ahead of us.”
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