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General Information

Teacher Absences (DES Circular 32/07)

The purpose of this circular is to set out for school management authorities, principal teachers and all teaching staff  the provisions determining arrangements in relation to absences from school and whether the teachers’ absence should be covered by the employment of a Substitute Teacher or a Temporary/Fixed Term Teacher. The issue of the circular is also intended to provide clarity for schools in relation to teacher absences having particular regard to the introduction of the Online Claims System (OLCS) at primary level in April, 2007.

The Online Claims System (OLCS) is designed to enable schools to submit online details of all teacher absences and to make claims for substitute teachers. The data input by schools, once validated, updates the Department’s Payroll and Personnel systems and issues payment directly to the teacher.

It should be noted that with the introduction of this system some absences for unpaid leave which have heretofore required the employment of a temporary/fixed term teacher will now be covered by the employment of a substitute (casual/non-casual) teacher. For example, under present arrangements a teacher on paid maternity leave is replaced by a substitute (casual/non-casual) teacher for the duration of paid maternity leave. When on unpaid maternity leave she is replaced by a temporary/fixed term teacher. Henceforth, the full absence, maternity leave, leave-in-lieu, unpaid maternity leave etc., will be covered by the appointment of a substitute (casual/non-casual) teacher.

A teacher who is employed in a primary school under a contract which obliges him/her to work for a period in excess of 40 days in the school year but less than a full school year is classified as a non-casual substitute teacher. Such a teacher is paid at his/her appropriate annual salary divided by 183 for each day worked. A teacher who is employed on a casual basis for a period of up to 40 days in a school year is classified as a casual substitute teacher and is paid a fixed daily rate which is inclusive of holiday pay.If such a teacher exceeds 40 days employment in a school year they are paid at the non-casual rate for any day in excess of 40 days.

Boards of Management should fulfil existing contractual arrangements with replacement teachers, whether substitute (casual/non-casual) or temporary/fixed term. The revised arrangements should come into effect for contractual arrangements to be entered into from 16 April, 2007 onwards.

The prior approval of the Chairperson of the Board of Management must be granted for all absences. Absence for part of a school day constitutes an absence for a full school day. Teachers are not allowed to absent themselves from school for the purpose of transacting private or personal business such as consultation with a solicitor or bank manager, signing of contracts, attending for interviews etc. Any absence without reasonable cause and the approval of the Board of Management will involve loss of salary

With effect from 16 April, 2007 all teacher absences which were previously recorded on the quarterly return and the substitute claim form will be submitted on-line by the schools involved in Phase 1 of the roll-out of OLCS. Pending the introduction of OLCS to all other primary schools all leave absences must be entered chronologically on the new substitute claim form which will be issued to all schools, even if the absence is not substitutable. It is important to note that absences should not be recorded on the quarterly return after 16 April, 2007.

The Department will meet the cost of supplying a substitute teacher replacing Principal teachers in one teacher schools who are absent for any reason as set out in Section 1 of this circular and with the permission of the Board of Management. Substitute cover will also be provided for Principals in one teacher schools in respect of Extra Personal Leave (EPV) days.

The arrangements for teacher absences have been set out in three sections in this Circular –

  • Section 1 relates to absences which allow for the employment of a substitute teacher to cover teacher absences such as Sick leave, Family leave, Personal leave & School Business Related Absence
  • Section 2 relates to absences which allow for the employment of a temporary/fixed term teacher to cover teacher absences on Career Break, Carers Leave, Secondment, and APSO (Agency for Personal Service Overseas) Leave
  • Section 3 relates to paid leave absences for which no substitute (casual/non-casual) or temporary/fixed term cover is paid by the Department

The terms and conditions applying to teacher absences as outlined in the above Sections can be found in the relevant Department Circulars governing these schemes, e.g., Maternity Leave, Adoptive Leave, Sick Leave etc.. In addition, Appendix A of this circular sets out the provisions governing other brief absences, e.g., illness and bereavement of a family member.

Boards of Management are obliged to recruit and employ fully qualified primary teachers for any vacancy in a school, regardless of the duration of the vacancy. Information regarding recognised qualifications can be obtained from the Primary Administration Section of the Department (Tel: 090 6483735/6483736). Under no circumstances should a Board of Management engage an untrained person and commit to retaining that person for the full duration of a teacher’s absence on career break, maternity leave, parental leave etc.. It should be noted that a post primary qualified teacher is not fully qualified for the purposes of appointment as a primary teacher. The procedures for the appointment of teachers as outlined in the Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedures for Boards of Management of National Schools must be adhered to at all times.