But just what does this mean for employers? There are three main points to be taken from the new legislation, which all Irish business owners must be aware of:
- Statutory annual leave entitlement accrues during a period of certified sick leave.
- An annual leave carry-over period of 15 months after a leave year will apply to those employees who could not, due to illness, take annual leave during the relevant leave year or during the normal carry-over period of six months.
- On termination of employment, payment in lieu of untaken accrued annual leave will apply to leave which was untaken as a result of illness in circumstances where the employee leaves the employment within a period of 15 months following the end of the leave year during which the statutory leave entitlement accrued. It is important to note that the revised section 23 of the OWT Act provides that account should be taken of not only the current leave year but also the 2 leave years immediately preceding the current leave year.
1. Review and update your contract templates and Employee Handbook or Sick Pay and Annual Leave policies to ensure that they are compliant with the revised national law. Be clear in your documentation that the accrual of annual leave applies to statutory leave entitlements only.
2. Carry out an assessment or audit of existing staff that are currently absent on long-term sickness absence and ensure that their annual leave entitlements are being calculated correctly.
3. Bolster medical certification procedures to ensure that any long-term absence is fully certified by a qualified medical practitioner.
4. In situations of termination, be mindful of the new definition of "relevant period" and ensure that employees are paid in respect of all accrued but untaken annual leave up to the date of termination of employment.
If you need further advice on this matter, or any other issues relating to HR and employment law, get in touch with us.