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Illness Benefits

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Illness Benefit and Injury Benefits are payable by the DEASP to qualifying employees in the event that they are unable to work due to injury or illness.

There are reasonably complicated rules around:

  • Who is a qualifying employee
  • The number of days stand down
  • Rates payable
  • Duration of illness

From an employers perspective, most of the eligibility information is prepared and handled by the employee in their communications with the DEASP.

The DEASP will advise the employee how much of a benefit they are entitled to. The employee nominates whether the benefit is paid to themselves directly, or to the employer.

Employers in Ireland is not obliged to pay ‘sick pay’ to employees. This will change in the near future. However, where there is a contractual agreement to do so, then the employer might require the Illness Benefit to be mandated to the company, and paid out via the payroll cycle.

So there are typically three scenarios to consider:

  1. Employer does not operate a sick pay scheme, the illness benefit is paid to the employee by the DEASP, no other payment from the employer.
  2. Illness benefit is paid to the employee by the DEASP, the employer makes an additional payment to the employee for sick leave.
  3. Illness benefit is mandated to the employer and the employer makes additional payments to the employee.

No sick pay scheme

The primary obligation here is for the employer to keep up to date with the employee RPN’s as issued by Revenue.

Where the employee is on cumulative tax basis, they are entitled to request that their USC and Income Tax refunds are processed as part of the regular payroll cycle.

The employee does not need to ceased, and if refunds are not requested, or due, then no payslip needs to be processed.

However, it should be noted that time spent on certified sick leave is considered to be be worked time for the purposes of calculating annual leave accrual.

We suggest that you continue to process payslips for employees who are out on sick leave, and use the Unpaid Leave type available to keep track of hours.

Employers with sick pay schemes

There may be a contractual requirement for the employer to continue to pay the employee up to their full regular income, or a proportion of their regular income, while an employee is on sick leave.

Different companies have their own requirements around how the employee declares the value of their Illness benefit from the DEASP.

Some companies are happy to accept verbal or written evidence about the amount of benefit. Others require the employee to pass the illness benefit to the company first, so that it can be paid back as part of their sick pay policy.

The key thing to be aware of with Illness benefit is that it is taxed at source, before it gets paid to the employee or employer.

This is achieved by Revenue applying changes to the employee tax certificate (RPN) and adjustment to the employee tax credit and rate cut off points.

There are generally two scenarios depending on whether the employee mandates their DEASP illness benefit to the employer or not.

Benefit is paid directly to the employee

Where the employee is paid the illness benefit directly from DEASP, then the employer only needs to adjust their regular income according to their sick pay contract agreements and make payments as normal.

Revenue will adjust the tax certificate to take account of the Illness Benefit. The only thing the employer needs to do is make sure they’re using the latest RPN.

In this scenario we suggest you use a Paid Leave earnings type and set their normal earnings to 0 hours and 0 value.

This will allow you to make payments to the employee, it will track the time taken on leave, and will also accrue annual leave at the normal rate.

Benefit is mandated to the employer

This gives the employer exact knowledge of how much Illness Benefit is provided by DEASP. So the employer isn’t relying solely on what the employee tells them. However, the setup is a little more complicated.

You will remember that Illness Benefit is taxed at source, so it should not attract further taxes when paid back to the employee! In this scenario, you need to pass the Illness Benefit back to the employee tax free.

For best reporting and traceability results, we suggest running the employee payslip with two earnings types:

  1. An Illness Benefit earnings line, for the amount of hours of leave, and the amount of illness benefit received from DEASP. This line will not be taxed.
  2. The employees normal wage/salary, set at zero hours and for the balance of pay which will be taxed at the employees new RPN rates.

The Illness Benefit earnings type needs to be configured to match your particular contractual needs. For instance, whether the benefit will be considered when calculating pension contributions or bonus/pay type of earnings.

It should be defined as non taxable, with individual employee rates, and a fixed amount per pay run cycle.

Useful Links

https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/disability_and_illness/disability_benefit.html

https://services.mywelfare.ie/en/topics/health-disability-illness/illness-benefit/

https://www.revenue.ie/en/employing-people/taxation-of-social-welfare-payments-illness-benefit/how-to-pay-an-employee-who-is-receiving-ib.aspx

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