The Department of Social Protection held a consultation seminar on
the feasibility and implications of introducing a scheme of statutory sick pay in Ireland on 20 February 2012. This report sets out the feedback received from stakeholders and interest groups during the course of the seminar.
The objective of the half day seminar was to provide an opportunity for interested parties and experts in the field to contribute to the developing debate on how a statutory sick pay (SSP) scheme, whereby employers would be obliged to directly meet the costs of sick absence for an initial period of illness, could contribute to meeting a range of policy objectives.
The seminar was attended by sixty participants representing various interest groups, notably employer representative bodies, sectoral bodies, trade unions and medical practitioners as well as relevant government departments and agencies. A list of attendees is set out in the annex.
The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., opened the seminar and set out the policy and economic context in which the issue of SSP is being considered. The seminar then proceeded with a presentation by Ms Joan McMahon, Department of Social Protection, which described the trends in disability payments over the past decade; the reform measures introduced in this area in recent years and the specific issues which need to be considered in the event that SSP is introduced. Mr John Martin of the OECD provided an international perspective on the approaches adopted across the range of OECD member states towards sharing responsibility for meeting the costs of illness and absenteeism. Dame Carol Black provided an overview of the evolving approach to workplace health and sickness management in the UK as set out in a recently published report which she co-wrote: "Health at work - an independent review of sickness absence".
Together with an open discussion on the issues involved, a number of stakeholders (IBEC, ISME, SFA, FORFAS and ICTU) availed of the opportunity to make formal inputs to the seminar. The seminar concluded with a reflection by Ms Anne Vaughan, Deputy Secretary-General of the Department of Social Protection, on what had been aired at the seminar and an outline of how the debate would be further developed in the coming months.
The different sessions in the seminar were chaired by Ms Niamh O'Donoghue, Secretary-General of the Department of Social Protection and by Dr. Clement Leech, Chief Medical Advisor in the Department of Social Protection.