I know 2020 has been a really challenging year. It’s been a year without precedent. Business has had to shoulder a huge burden. Thank you for all you’ve done, for keeping our economy going, for keeping so many people in employment and for co-operating with all the public health restrictions. Your efforts have saved many lives and prevented many more from getting sick.
Sadly, it seems we are now entering a third wave of the pandemic and this will mean a return to tighter restrictions on our lives. I can assure you that Government financial support like the EWSS, CRSS, the commercial rates holiday and VAT reductions will remain in place to help you through this. Vaccines are on the way and the first people will be vaccinated before year end. I am confident that we will see a return to some semblance of normality by spring or summer and that 2021 will be a much better year.
Today, I am writing to you about three things; Brexit, the National Minimum Wage and Illness Benefit.
It is now only days away from the next Brexit milestone. Britain will leave the single market and customs union on the 1st of January. This will mean significant changes for you and your business, in often unexpected ways.
I urge you in the limited time remaining to prepare for these changes now. The Government is here to help. Training, advice and financial support are available. See here for more information.
An excellent place to start is to fill out the Brexit Readiness Checker, which will give you a report on exactly what needs to be done for your individual business. I know this feels like another hurdle after an impossible year but please seek out the help that is there and prepare now.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to highlight changes to the National Minimum Wage and Illness Benefit that will be taking place in the new year. From the 1st of January 2021, the National Minimum Wage will rise by 10c to €10.20 an hour.
There will also be a change to Illness Benefit from March next year, which will mean your employees will be eligible for the payment, after a period of three days of illness, down from six previously. We hope this reduces the financial burden on those employers who currently provide sick pay for staff.
The Government has committed to introducing a Statutory Sick Pay Scheme next year and work is continuing on that.
Wishing you all a better and prosperous 2021.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment “