Leitrim deputy Harkin calls for immediate sick and parental leave measures

Leitrim Observer reporter

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MEP Marian Harkin

Deputy Marian Harkin

Irish Workers, who have been universally recognised as social partners deserved access to levels of payment for sick and parental leave at least on a par with rates existing throughout the EU.

This was suggested by Marian Harkin TD when she spoke on a motion by the Labour Party in the Dail, yesterday Wednesday, September 22nd which, she said, addressed in a real, meaningful and sustainable way, issues facing workers, parents and guardians around sick and parental leave in the context of COVID-19.

Many people who never expected to be facing the need for sick and parental leave payments arising for instance, from children having to remain home from school during the pandemic, required and deserved state support.

Quoting her experience as a former member of the European Parliament’s Employment & Social Affairs Committee she pointed out that Ireland was among the few countries that did not have legislation in place that guarantee all workers the right to decent levels of sick pay. “This proposal needs to be an integral part of our COVID strategy and is reasonable and feasible”, she said.

She instanced countries like Belgium, Germany and Nordic states whose governments were politically right of centre, but recognised the need to support workers and parents when circumstances required it.  She instanced the position in Germany where workers were entitled to 100% of their wages for six weeks.  “This is not a left-right issue and the Labour party proposal is not, by any stretch of the imagination, in the highest bracket compared to what is in place across the EU”, Deputy Harkin said.

She questioned the proposal of the Government to defer the implementation of sick and parental leave measures and called for immediate implementation while, at the same time, examining options to protect SME’s in difficulty.