Businesses could be in line for €70m tax boost and rise in sick leave may be paused

A new package of supports for businesses will be announced next month but Minister for Finance Michael McGrath warns there will be no mini-budget

Plans to increase sick leave days could be paused and businesses could be in line for a €70 million tax boost as part of a package of supports promised by taoiseach-designate Simon Harris.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has warned, however, that there will be no “mini-budget” before the summer despite a push in recent weeks from within Fine Gael for early interventions for businesses.

Instead, the bulk of the package of supports could see changes made to employers’ PRSI to offset the recent increase in the minimum wage. The threshold at which earnings fall liable to the higher rate was not changed in Budget 2024, but could be addressed as part of a series of measures due to be unveiled next month. Three sources confirmed this would cost between €50 million and €70 million.

Future increases to the number of sick days an employee can take could also be paused due to concerns about the extra costs this would impose on businesses. It had been planned that workers would be entitled to seven statutory sick leave days from next January, up from five. This was then supposed to increase to 10 days in 2026.


Officials are also mulling over changes to the National Training Fund, a pot used to support the upskilling of people in employment, as it currently has a surplus of about €1.4 billion.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr McGrath said work was ongoing around employer PRSI.

“When the Government last month considered the report on the cost of various measures to improve working conditions, it was agreed that work would be undertaken to examine options relating to the application of the lower rate of employer PRSI,” he said. “This work is being led by the Department of Social Protection and involves consultation with a number of other departments, which I expect will conclude in the coming weeks.

“In addition, work has been under way for some time to consider what can be done to help businesses with the National Training Fund, which is now in significant surplus, and this work will be accelerated.

“As I’ve said before, there won’t be any mini-budget or Finance Bill before the summer but we will consider what specific measures can be implemented to assist businesses, some of whom are struggling with high costs at the moment, while at the same time recognising we have an economy pretty much at full employment at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Mr Harris, who is expected to become taoiseach on Tuesday after a Dáil vote, said he would consider a “range of factors” when deciding on his Cabinet reshuffle.

“Cabinet reshuffles are lonely and difficult decisions,” he told RTÉ's The Week in Politics.

Asked whether Minister for Justice Helen McEntee would stay in her role, he said: “I haven’t made any decision in relation to my reshuffle or my Cabinet appointments. But it’s not about personalities. It’s clearly about delivery.”

“I will factor in lots of things, gender and geography, but the most important thing I need to factor in is ability: ability to do the job and ability to advance the agenda that I outlined on behalf of my party,” he said.

Mr Harris also signalled that he intends to examine a planned hate speech law and legislation that would allow for longer opening hours for pubs. Regarding the latter, he said: “I want to hear very clearly from the Road Safety Authority and from the gardaí because I will never do anything that will in any way make either of their jobs more difficult.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times