Following lengthy negotiations, a scheme providing leave of absence following assault for teachers has been agreed between the DES, school management and teachers. This scheme is separate from the illness leave scheme.
Having an assault leave provision has been a demand of INTO Congress for a number of years and the issue has been pursued by INTO officials with the DES over a number of years.
This scheme will be in place for an initial two years on a pilot basis. Circular 61/2017 provides for:
- A recording of incidents of assault.
- Assault leave to be available where there is a medically certified physical injury requiring absence from work.
- Provision for up to three months’ assault leave at full pay in a rolling four-year period (with an extension to six months on full pay in exceptional circumstances).
- Substitute cover for assault-related absences.
- A teacher’s sick leave record not being affected by such absences.
A teacher on Assault Leave will have this absence certified by their GP. In addition, where that teacher is eligible for a social welfare Illness Benefit, the DES has confirmed that they must also submit MC1/MC2 certificates to the Illness Benefit Unit (IBU) within the DES Payroll Division, in order to ensure the correct procedure is adhered to, similar to the Sick Leave Scheme.
How can a teacher apply for assault leave?
An application form (Appendix A of Circular 61/2017) must be completed by the teacher concerned and by the employer and forwarded by the employer to the Department/ETB within a week of the incident occurring.
Schools should also note Circular 62/2017, which details the scheme for leave of absence following assault for special needs assistants.
Leaflet on assaults
The INTO is proud to launch a new leaflet for schools and teachers (available below). This leaflet has been developed on an all-island basis, by a small working group made up of two practicing teachers, Rosena Jordan, INTO ex-president and Caroline McCarthy, INTO Northern Committee, along with INTO officials: Deirdre O’Connor, INTO Assistant General Secretary and Tommy McGlone, Senior Official in Northern Office.
They reviewed available material and drew on the experience of Caroline in the special education sector in Northern Ireland, as well as the experience of the officials dealing with queries on this matter. Rosena reflected the experiences of teachers who she met in her year as INTO president, visiting schools all over Ireland.
The leaflet gives advice and guidance to schools in seeking to prevent assaults, and emphasises that assault is an issue for schools as employers, not just a personal issue for a teacher. It also gives practical advice on what to do if an assault occurs.