Waiting period for State standard illness benefit is cut to three days
Enhanced Covid-19 payment introduced last year carries no waiting days
Illness benefit is paid at a rate of €203 a week, or less if the recipient’s average earnings before getting sick were less than €300
Workers who become ill will only have to wait three days rather than six from today to become eligible for the State’s standard illness benefit payment, the Minister for Social Protection has said.
The cut in “waiting days” before a person can receive the short-term payment available to those who cannot work because of illness was announced by Heather Humphreys on Monday morning.
The change does not relate to the short-term enhanced Covid-19 payment which came in last year for those who contracted the virus or were self-isolating because of close contact. There are no waiting days for this short-term illness payment, which is paid from day one of a person being diagnosed with the virus or required to self-isolate.
Since January 2014, workers have received no payment for the first six days of illness, or waiting days. Some 200,000 applications for the illness benefit were made last year.
Normally, illness benefit is paid at a rate of €203 a week, or less if the recipient’s average earnings before getting sick were less than €300.
To qualify for illness benefit, the recipient must be under the age of 66 and meet certain Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) conditions, including the payment of at least 104 weeks of PRSI since they first started work. Self-employed people can’t get illness benefit, but if they have a long-term condition that prevents them from working, they may become eligible for the State’s invalidity pension. People over the age of 66 do not pay PRSI but will have done so in the past. However, they are not eligible for the benefit.
Ms Humphreys said she was pleased to be restoring the original three-waiting-days condition and said the change would “help reduce the financial burden for employees who become ill”.
There are no waiting days for the short-term enhanced Covid-19 payment which was introduced as an “exceptional provision in the public interest to mitigate the spread of the disease” to provide benefit to those who have been diagnosed with or are a probable source of the virus.
The Covid-19 enhanced Illness Benefit, which was introduced shortly after the pandemic hit Ireland last year, has different rules to the normal illness benefit. Where a worker is told to self-isolate, the individual can apply for an enhanced illness benefit payment, which amounts to €350 per week. This also applies to self-employed people. The person must ask their GP to submit a medical certificate on their behalf to avail of this.
The payment aims to encourage people not to go to work due to financial constraint when they should be in isolation and is payable for two weeks where a person is a probable source of the virus and for up to 10 weeks where the person is diagnosed with the disease.