Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has called for a detailed debate on getting employers to fund part of their staff's sick pay.
Ms Burton told the Dáil that getting employers to pay four weeks of sick pay could generate €89m in savings.
She said that the current system can encourage people to stay out of work longer.
In most of Ireland's competitor countries employers contribute to paying employees' sick pay, she said.
She described as "staggering" the fact that one in six people of working age are in receipt of some form of illness or disability payment.