Brief Absences

The term ‘brief absences’ is used to describe short-term occasional absences sanctioned for teachers during the school year. These include compassionate leave in respect of illness and bereavement, leave for specified special family occasions and other specified provisions. See Circular 32/2007.
Please Note: There have been a number of amendments to this Circular since 2007, such as the removal of substitute cover for self-certified sick leave and the first day of Family Illness Leave. Two exceptions apply: 1) Substitute cover will be provided for the first day of an absence of a teacher on self-certified sick leave or the first day of Family Illness Leave in schools with two or less classroom teachers. 2) In the event that two or more teachers in a school are absent from teaching duty on either self-certified sick leave or the first day of Family Illness Leave, substitute cover is provided for the second and subsequent teachers that are absent. (for more information on the appointment of substitute teachers, please see the Staffing Section).

Definition of Family Members in Relation to Absences

1.1. Illness of a family member:

  1. This leave is granted for urgent family reasons where owing to a serious injury or the immediate presence of a teacher is indispensably required at the place where the family member is – this leave also includes accompanying a member of ones immediate family or near relative to hospital where alternative domestic arrangements cannot be made.
    A substitute teacher may be employed for the school days during the absence as specified in 1.1(c)
    below.
  2. For the purposes of this sub-section, family relationships are defined as follows:
    • Immediate family – spouse (spouse also includes a person with whom the teacher is living as husband or wife) father, mother, step-father, step-mother, son, daughter, step-son and step-daughter.
    • Near relative – brother, sister, grandparent, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandchild.
    • Three days leave of absence is also available to teachers who are members of religious communities in respect of the serious illness of a member of the teacher’s immediate community.
  3. The maximum, period of absence that shall be granted is:
    • 5 school days in a school year in the case of a member of the immediate family
    • 3 school days in a school year in the case of a near relative and to teachers who are
      members of religious communities

    These maximum periods of leave include a teacher’s statutory entitlement under “Force Majeure” leave.

2.1 Bereavement involving a family member:

  1. Special Leave with pay is allowed to a teacher in the event of bereavement. For the purposes of this sub-section, family relationships are defined as follows:
    • Immediate family – spouse (spouse also includes a person with whom the teacher is living as husband or wife) father, mother, step-father, step-mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, step-son and step-daughter.
    • Near relative – grandparent, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandchild, first cousin.
    • Inlaw – father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother in law, sister in law and son or daughter in-law.
    • Three days leave of absence is also available to teachers who are members of religious communities in respect of the death of a member of the teacher’s immediate community.
  2. The maximum period of absence that shall be granted is:
    • 5 consecutive in the case of a member of the immediate family
    • Absence for the minimum period necessary to attend the funeral subject to a maximum of 3 consecutive days in the case of a near relative or in-law

    If the death occurs in the evening (after school hours) five or three consecutive days are allowed, as appropriate, starting from the following day;
    If the death occurs at the weekend (Saturday/Sunday) five or three consecutive days are allowed, starting from the following day;

  3. In the case of immediate family, a substitute teacher may be employed for up to five days. In the case of near relative, in-law or members of Religious Communities a substitute teacher may be employed for the minimum period necessary to attend the funeral subject to a maximum of three days, except in the case of the death of a first cousin where a substitute teacher may only be employed for one school day.
    The absence should be recorded as “Bereavement Leave”.

Family Leave Provision for Teachers 2017 (PDF)
This information is taken from the DES publication Terms and Conditions of Employment for Registered Teachers in Recognised Primary and Post Primary Schools

Table Of Absences

  • 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, & 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.

Section 1

Teacher absences for which a Substitute teacher may be employed by the Board of Management and be paid by the Department of Education & Skills

Nature of absence No of days including maximum, if applicable, for which substitute teacher will be paid
Sick Leave
Certified Sick Leave – allowed maximum 183 days certified and uncertified sick leave over four years service in respect of an “ordinary illness”. Allowed maximum of 365 days certified and uncertified sick leave over 4 years service in respect of “critical illness”. Maximum of 365 days
Maternity Leave
Ante Natal Visits – evidence of appointment required by BOM All days
Ante Natal Classes – A female teacher is allowed absence to attend one set of ante natal classes except the last 3 in a set. A male teacher is allowed absence to attend the last two ante natal classes once only.Evidence of attendance required by BOM No of days applicable
Maternity Leave Maximum of 26 weeks
Unpaid Statutory Maternity Leave – this leave follows immediately on from statutory paid maternity leave in lieu Maximum of 16 consecutive weeks
Adoptive Leave
Adoptive Meetings – Allowed time off to attend pre-adoption meetings/classes with social workers/health board officials. Evidence of appointment required by BOM No of days required
Adoptive Leave Maximum of 24 weeks
Unpaid Statutory Adoptive Leave Allowed maximum of 16 consecutive weeks Maximum 16 weeks
Additional (Extended) Unpaid Adoptive Leave – Allowed immediately following the statutory unpaid adoptive leave & may be taken until the end of the school year (i.e. 31 st August) No of days absence
Resumed (Postponed ) Paid Adoptive Leave – As outlined in Primary Circular 0018/2013 (PDF) Maximum of 24 weeks
Resumed (Postponed) Unpaid Adoptive Leave Maximum of 16 weeks
Paternity Leave
Paternity Leave – This is paid leave applicable to fathers only Maximum of 3 school days within 31 days of the birth/placement of the child
Parental Leave
Parental Leave – Unpaid leave allowed maximum 18 weeks per child Maximum of 18 weeks per child
Leave for Illness/Bereavement
Leave in respect of tending to an immediate family member who is ill including accompaniment to hospital – As outlined in above. Please note that the maximum period of leave as outlined includes a teacher’s entitlement to Force Majeure leave. Maximum of 3 school days in a school year with the exception of the first day of any such absence.
Bereavement of member of immediate family – Allowed 5 consecutive days including a weekend – As outlined above Five consecutive days including a weekend
Bereavement of near Relative/In-law/ member of religious community – Allowed minimum necessary period subject to maximum of 3 consecutive days including a weekend – As outlined above Minimum period necessary subject to a maximum of 3 consecutive days including a weekend
Personal Leave
Unpaid Leave of Absence – Application must be approved by BOM six weeks in advance of absence 10 days max. See DES 35/2010 (PDF)
Assault Leave (Paid Leave) – Application with Board of Management approval to be made directly to the Department of Education and Skills. Documentary evidence must be supplied Number of days approved
Health & Safety Leave – paid leave Application with Board of Management approval to be made directly to the Department of Education and Skills. Documentary evidence must be supplied Number of days approved
Retirement Seminar – paid leave: Prior approval of Board of Management and evidence of attendance is required 1 day
Career Break – Paid Leave in Lieu of Public Holidays: Allowed for public holidays which fall within the first 13 weeks following commencement of a career break for the first time 1 day allowed See DES Circular 123/06 (PDF)
Carers Paid Leave in Lieu of Public Holidays: Allowed for public holidays which fall within the first 13 weeks following commencement of carers leave Number of days applicable
Leave in Lieu of Public Holidays for Job Sharing Teachers – Allowed paid leave in lieu for 17 March, 1 st Monday in May, 1 st Monday in June for job-sharing teacher who is not timetabled to work on these days. Max allowed 3 days. See DES Circular 123/06 (PDF)
Representing Ireland at International Sporting Event – Paid leave, documentary evidence of the participation in the international sporting event and the number of days required must be submitted to the Department of Education and Skills with the Board of Management approval Number of days approved
Membership of State Bodies -e.g. National Council for Special Education, State Exams Commission – Absence applies only where meetings are held during school opening hours Up to 10 school days in a school year.
Candidate in a General Election – Unpaid leave for all days from the date of the candidate’s lodgement of his/her nomination papers up to and including the day(s) of the count No of days applicable
Attending court where a teacher is the defendant or plaintiff in a personal case Unpaid Leave The number of days deemed necessary by the Court
Jury Service – Paid Leave The number of days deemed necessary by the Court.
School Business
Principal Release – Paid leave to allow Principals to undertake administrative duties Minimum of 14 days – maximum 22 days subject to number of mainstream posts in the school. See list below.

  • P + 1 – 2 Teachers: 14 days
  • P + 3 – 4 Teachers: 18 days
  • P + 5 – 6 Teachers: 22 days
Court Attendance – Attending legal proceedings on behalf of the school The number of days deemed necessary by the court
In-Service/In-Career Development – Attendance must be approved by Department and Board of Management.  Evidence of attendance required. Number of days approved
In Service/In Career Development in Lieu –Leave in lieu allowed in respect of in- service/in-career development days attended during maternity leave, adoptive leave and parental leave Number of days applicable
Examiner for State Examinations – Paid leave with prior approval of Board of Management. Documentary evidence required Number of days approved
Suspension by Board/Administration Leave – paid leave application to be made directly to Department by Board of Management Number of days applicable
One Teacher Schools – All brief absences approved by the Board of Management are allowed for substitute cover Number of days required
Union Executive Committee – Paid leave prior approval of Board of Management and documentary evidence required Maximum of 2 days per month.

Section 2

Teacher absence (all unpaid leave of absence) for which a Temporary/Fixed Term Teacher may be employed by the Board of Management and paid by the Department of Education and Skills

Nature of absence Period for which temporary/fixed term teacher will be paid
Career Break DES Circular 10/2011 (PDF) Overall maximum of 10 years
Carers Leave DES Circular 05/2003 (PDF) Maximum of 104 weeks unpaid
Absence to other agencies
SecondmentMaximum of 5 years to outside agencies (Word), 9 years to European Schools (Word) & 10 years to Department National Approved Programmes Maximum 5, 9 or 10 years depending on agency to which teacher has been seconded

Section 3

The following sets out teachers’ entitlement to absence for which Substitute Cover is not paid by the Department of Education and Skills for the following absences

Nature of absence Details
SELF-CERTIFIED SICK LEAVE Seven days allowed in a two year rolling period, subject to a maximum of 3 consecutive days per absence.
FAMILY LEAVE ABSENCE (Paid leave)
Wedding of immediate family/near relative/in-law allowed 1 school day if the wedding is held on a day when the school is open. Please refer to No 2.1(a) above for definition of immediate family/near relative (same as for bereavement leave)
Ordination/profession/religious reception/ garda passing out/ commissioning/ Graduation of *immediate family allowed 1 school day if the ordination/religious reception/profession is held on a day when the school is open. Please refer to No 2.1(a) above for definition of immediate family/near relative (same as for bereavement leave)
PERSONAL LEAVE ABSENCE (Paid leave)
Study Leave prior to Examinations allowed 5 days in respect of recognised third level educational courses. Verification in respect of the exam must be submitted to the Board of Management
Exam Leave allowed the actual days on which examinations are held, provided it is a recognised third level educational course. Verification in respect of the exam and the number of days necessary must be submitted to the Board of Management
Teachers’ own wedding this applies only when the wedding takes place on a day when the school is due to be open – allowed 7 consecutive days from the date of marriage. These days include weekends and any school closure e.g. bank holiday, vacation days etc
Graduation of teacher 1 school day if the graduation is held on a day when the school is open.
Extra Personal Vacation(EPV) Allowed a maximum of 5 EPV days per school year in lieu of attendance at approved summer course – DES Circular 37/97 (Currently unavailable from DES website)
Membership of public bodies e.g. county councils or statutory local bodies allowed up to ten school days in a school year. Absence applies only where meetings are held during school opening hours
Candidate in a Local Election allowed1 day on day of election
Legal Separation Proceedings allowed 1 school day provided the proceedings take place on a day when the school is open
Witness in Court (under subpoena or summons) allowed the number of days required to be in attendance under subpoena or summons (The Board of Management/teacher may claim payment for substitute cover from the relevant party).