Click here for Circular Letter 0054/2019 - 'Leave Schemes for Registered Teachers Employed in Recognised Primary and Post Primary Schools.' The section on the Sick Leave Scheme begins on p. 8 of the document. This document supersedes all previous circulars.
Self-Certified/Uncertified Sick Leave
Following a Labour Court recommendation under the Public Service Agreement (2010-14), teachers and lecturers are entitled to a maximum of 7 self-certified, paid sick leave days in a rolling 2 year period. From 1st of August 2014 onwards the 7 days will be calculated over a personal rolling 2 year period counting backwards from the date of the latest self-certified sick leave. A teacher/lecturer who has exhausted all 7 self-certified, paid sick days will - in the event that s/he is absent on sick leave - have to provide a medical certificate if s/he is to be paid for that absence. (See CL 36/12)
A teacher/lecturer may take 3 consecutive days without a medical certificate. If a teacher is absent on a Friday and on the following Monday, then the absence will be recorded as 4 days’ leave and a medical certificate will be required. Where a teacher is absent on either Friday or Monday, only the day on which the teacher is absent will be reckoned as sick leave. In the case of Class A PRSI contributors in all school sectors, the MC1 Social Welfare Certificate must be submitted by the school to the Department of Education and Skills/ETB after a period of 3 days of sick leave for referral to the Department of Social Protection. This is required for compliance with PRSI regulations.
Certified Sick Leave
Following two Labour Court decisions under the Public Service Agreement, new sick leave arrangements have been introduced for all public servants. The new sick leave provisions come into effect for teachers, lecturers and staff of ETBs from 1st of September 2014.
The new arrangements are as follows:
Total paid sick leave arrangements for those with non-critical illnesses:
Three months (92 days) full pay in a one year period
Followed by three months (91 days) half pay
This is subject to a maximum of 183 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period. Thereafter temporary rehabilitation remuneration may be payable for a period normally limited to 18 months. (See ‘temporary rehabilitation remuneration’ below.)
Total paid sick leave arrangements for those with critical illnesses or serious physical injuries:
Six months (183 days) full pay in a one year period
Followed by six months (182 days) half pay
This is subject to a maximum of 365 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period. Thereafter temporary rehabilitation remuneration may be payable for a period normally limited to 12 months.
The ‘rolling four-year period’ means that all sick leave (both certified and self-certified) taken over the previous four years, up to the date of the current illness, is taken into account when calculating eligibility for further paid sick leave. A further look-back of 12 months will determine what rate the sick leave should be paid at. (See ‘calculating sick leave’ below.)
Critical illness protocol
A critical illness protocol sets out criteria that will be used to determine whether the illness can be defined as ‘critical’. In order for the illness to be deemed ‘critical’, you should ordinarily be under current or recent clinical care of a consultant. The case will be referred to the occupational health service which will advise as to whether the following criteria are met:
The employee is medically unfit to return to his or her current duties or (where practicable) modified duties in the same pay grade.
The nature of this medical condition has at least one of the following characteristics:
(a) Acute life threatening physical illness
(b) Chronic progressive illness, with well-established potential to reduce life expectancy
(c) Major physical trauma ordinarily requiring corrective acute operative surgical treatment
(d) In-patient hospital care of ten consecutive days or greater.
For the latest information on critical illness provision, see Circular Letter 25/2018. This confirms that if a teacher has an ordinary illness (i.e. an illness which is not regarded as critical illness) within a 12 month period of the date of return to work following the critical illness, the critical illness provision will apply.
Serious illness prior to September 2014
Because Critical Illness Provisions (CIP) did not exist prior to 1 September 2014, any illness/injury which occurred prior to 1 September 2014 could not be classified as a CIP illness for the purpose of access to extended sick leave. CIP can only be granted for absences which occur after 1 September 2014.
Following representations by the teacher unions, a transitional arrangement has been introduced to avoid a situation of a teacher who was seriously ill in the 4 years prior to the introduction of the new Public Service Sick Leave Scheme (1st September 2014) having no further access to any paid sick leave. Under the Transitional Arrangement, employers can, if they consider it appropriate, award extended sick pay under the CIP for an absence which occurs after 1 September 2014 on the basis that a teacher previously had a very serious illness that meets the following criteria:
a) commenced within the 4 year service period prior to 1 September 2014
b) commenced within a period of 4 years service before the commencement of the current absence; and
c) referral to the OHS is made in accordance with the OHS Standard Operating Procedures.
There is no requirement that the current absence, which commenced on or after 1 September 2014, must relate to the previous serious illness.
Temporary rehabilitation remuneration
Following the exhaustion of the maximum paid sick leave, a worker is eligible to be paid at the rate of pension to which they are entitled at that point. This is known as ‘temporary rehabilitation remuneration’. It will not normally be paid for more than 12 or 18 months, whichever brings you to a total of two years’ sick leave. However, if a reasonable prospect of a return to work is confirmed by the employers’ occupational health specialist, the payment of temporary rehabilitation remuneration may be continued for a further period not exceeding two years, subject to six-monthly reviews.
Calculating sick pay
In order to calculate your entitlement to future paid sick leave and the rate at which it will be paid, you must have 2 pieces of information to hand:
- The total number of sick days you have taken in the past four years
- The total number of sick days you have taken in the past twelve months
You can get this information from your employer or HR Department.
Calculating sick pay - Non-critical illness
Step 1 – Calculating the number of days of paid sick leave
Look back four years (from the date of your current sick leave) to find the total number of both certified and uncertified sick days taken during this four year period.
If the number of days taken is greater than 183 days then there is no further entitlement to sick pay (the entitlement has been exhausted). However, temporary rehabilitation remuneration may be payable.
If the number of days taken is less than 183 days then you are entitled to paid sick leave for the remaining number of days (up to a maximum of 183). You are entitled to 183 minus the number of sick days taken in the past four years.
Step 2 – Calculating the rate of sick leave pay
If you are entitled to paid sick leave, the next step is to calculate the rate of sick pay that should be paid (i.e. full pay or half pay).
Look back over the previous 12 months (from the date of current sick leave) to find the total number of both certified and uncertified sick days taken in this period.
If you have taken less than 92 days sick leave in the previous 12-month period, you are entitled to be paid at full pay up until you reach the 92 day cut off and will then be paid at half pay for up to 91 days. (This is subject to the limit of the total number of paid sick days you are entitled to – calculated in step 1).
If you have taken more than 92 days sick leave in the previous 12-month period, you are entitled to be paid at half pay for up to a maximum of 91 days. (This is subject to the limit of the total number of paid sick days you are entitled to – calculated in step 1).
Calculating sick pay - Critical illness
In calculating sick pay in cases of critical illness, the calculation mechanism is similar except that in looking back from a current date the member is checking to see if the total number of certified and uncertified days taken in a four year period is less than or great than 365 as opposed to 183. Furthermore, the rate of sick pay is based on 183 days on full pay followed by 182 days on half pay in a 12-month period.
Example 1 (non-critical illness) - a teacher/lecturer who has taken 123 days sick leave in the four year period up to their current illness is entitled to 60 further days of paid sick leave. He has taken no sick leave in the previous 12 months so would be entitled to take all 60 days sick leave at full pay.
Example 2 (non-critical illness) – a teacher/lecturer who has taken 20 days sick leave in the four year period up to their current illness is entitled to 163 further days of paid sick leave. She has taken 10 days sick leave in the previous 12 months, so is entitled to 82 further days of sick leave on full pay and the remaining 81 days on half pay.
Example 3 (critical illness) – a teacher/lecturer satisfies the criteria for their sick leave to be treated under the critical illness protocol. He/she has taken 30 sick leave days in the four year period up to their current ‘critical illness’ and so is entitled to 335 further days of paid sick leave under the critical illness protocol. He/she has taken 13 days sick leave in the previous 12 months, so is entitled to 170 further days of sick leave on full pay and the remaining 165 days on half pay.
Pregnancy related sick leave
Following representation by the teacher unions through the Public Services Committee of the ICTU, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed in June 2015 that the Sick Leave Regulations will be amended shortly to reflect an improvement that has been agreed in regard to Pregnancy-Related Sick.
Since September 2014 the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme provides that:
- no woman shall be paid less than half-pay while absent for a pregnancy-related illness
- a woman who has availed of pregnancy related sick leave will have access to additional sick leave at half pay equivalent to the period for which she was on pregnancy-related sick leave at half pay.
The amendment to be introduced means that, in addition to the provisions above, access to additional sick leave at the half rate of pay will be allowed for all pregnancy related sick leave (i.e. not just sick leave taken at half pay).
The amended Sick Leave Regulations will provide that:
a woman who has exhausted her access to paid sick leave due to pregnancy-related sick leave in the previous 4 years may have access to additional non-pregnancy-related sick leave at the half rate of pay. The number of additional days allowed:
- Will be the equivalent number of days taken on pregnancy related sick leave in the 4 years;
- Must not exceed normal sick leave limits (e.g. 183 days) for non-pregnancy-related sick leave (when counted with other non-pregnancy related sick leave in the previous 4 years).
Teachers/Lecturers/ETB staff who are absent on sick leave when the new arrangements come into operation on 1st of September 2014, will continue to retain their existing sick leave entitlements (365 days in a rolling 4-year period) until they return to work. Once they return to work, however, the new sick leave arrangements will apply to them.