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- What change has the DES announced in relation to teachers’ sick leave arrangements?
- Circular 36/2012 issued by the DES on 26 October 2012, deals with one aspect of sick leave only, i.e. self-certified sick leave (previously known as uncertified sick leave). The change is an immediate reduction in the number of self-certified sick leave days permitted.Sick Leave
- What is the new arrangement for self-certified sick leave?
Under the new arrangement, up to 7 days paid self-certified sick leave can be taken in a rolling two year period.
This is a reduction in the number of days allowed, as the 7 days will now be counted over a longer, 2 year reference period.
The previous arrangement provided for up to 7 days self-certified sick leave in a school year.
- When did the new arrangements coming into force?
- From a teacher’s perspective the new arrangements effectively commenced at the beginning of this school year 2014/15.Sick Leave
- How will self-certified sick leave that I have taken over the past 2 year period now be counted?
- From 1 August 2014 onwards 7 self certified days allowed will be calculated over "a rolling 2 year period counting backwards."Sick Leave
- What is meant by “a rolling two year period"?
The concept is that a maximum number of self-certified days (7) are allowed within a reference period.
The reference period is a two year period.
This reference period is also a retrospective two years.
The reference period is not static i.e. it is not measured over 2 calendar years or over two school years. In this context it is referred to as a rolling two year period.
If a teacher checks her self-certified sick leave record on 31 December 2014 only self-certified absences in the 2 year period between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2014 will count.
If the teacher was to check again on 1 May 2015 only self-certified absences in the 2 year period between 30 April 2013 and 1 May 2015 will count.
As outlined in Q.4 above the ‘rolling 2 year period’ is part of Phase 2 of implementation and commences from 1 August 2014.
[Note: The concept of a rolling reference period is not new to teachers. A teacher’s overall entitlement to sick leave is currently 365 days in a rolling 4 year period.]
- Should I keep a record of my self-certified sick leave?
The INTO recommends as good practice that each teacher retains their own record of self-certified sick leave.
A simple grid for record-keeping purposes is available to download here.
Teachers’ official leave records are recorded electronically at school level on the Online Claims System (OLCS). The data controller in your school (usually the principal or school secretary) will be able to provide you with a print out of your leave if required.
- What happens if I have used up my 7 paid self-certified days?
A teacher 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. This is not new and could happen at present.
What is new is that 7 days are spread over a longer reference period, so it is more likely that teachers could reach the maximum 7 allowed.
- How many self-certified days can be taken together?
- There is no change here - a maximum of three uncertified school days can be taken at any one time.Sick Leave
- DES Circular 36/2012 refers to 'self-certified' sick leave rather than uncertified. What is the significance of this?
These changes form part of the Government’s approach to standardising sick leave arrangements across the public sector.
The common language to be used throughout the public sector will see the term 'self-certified sick leave'.
- Why were public service sick leave arrangements changed?
The Government has set out in the Croke Park Agreement, the Public Sector Reform Plan and elsewhere, its objective of standardising conditions of employment including sick leave across the public sector. The aim is to save money by reducing entitlement to paid sick leave.
Agreement on proposed changes to sick leave arrangements put to the public sector unions by the Government, as employer, was not reached in discussions under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). The issue was then referred to a hearing of the Labour Court which was held on 10 July 2012. The Court issued its findings which are binding on both parties on 19 July 2012. The Labour Court issued a clarification in relation to the commencement date in relation to self-certified sick leave on 18 October 2012.
The current changes to uncertified sick leave and the reductions planned in respect of certified sick leave arise from the Labour Court’s recommendations.
The Government is now set to legislate for these changes.
- What is necessary on a medical certificate for certified sick leave?
Under the terms of Circular 59/14 a medical certificate must:
- be signed by a duly qualified medical practitioner registered with the Irish/UK Medical Council/Dental Council of Ireland. In exceptional circumstances medical certificates may be accepted from overseas medical practitioners, such as where a teacher becomes ill abroad or is receiving a recognised medical treatment unavailable in Ireland. The advice of the OHS must be sought in such circumstances.
- normally cover a period of or no more than one week. However, certification for periods of up to one month may be permitted at the discretion of the employer.
- state fitness to work or otherwise.