Brief Absences

The following is intended as an overview of some common brief absences, but teachers should refer to Circular 32/2007 (DOC) for additional information and leave options.

Primary teachers’ conditions of employment make provision for certain short-term absences which may be sanctioned during the school year. These absences may include compassionate leave in respect of illness or bereavement, or to attend special family occasions, such as weddings or graduations.

Although circular 32/2007 provides a comprehensive reference for most brief absences, there have been some significant amendments to this Circular since 2007, including the withdrawal of substitute cover for self-certified sick leave, and for the first day of Family Illness Leave.

It is also important to check Appendix A of Circular 32/2007 for the Department of Education and Skills’ definitions of immediate family and near relative which can change depending on the nature of the absence involved.

 

Family Illness Leave

Bereavement Leave

Medical, dental, or hospital appointments

Wedding Leave

Extra Personal Vacation Days (Course Days)

Study and Exam Leave

Graduation Leave etc.

Leave to attend Confirmation

Leave to attend court

Jury service

Representing Ireland at a sporting event

FAMILY ILLNESS LEAVE

Family Illness Leave provides for up to five days paid absence per school year, where due to illness or injury, the teacher’s presence is required with a family member. This may include accompanying a family member to hospital appointments.

Family Illness Leave may be taken as up to five days for an immediate family member (defined as the teachers’ spouse or partner, parents or step-parents, and children or step-children).

To tend to a near relative (defined as one’s siblings, grandparents, uncles or aunts, nieces or nephews, and grandchildren), three days may be taken.

There is substitute cover only from the second consecutive day of Family Illness Leave, with the following exceptions:

  • In a school of two or fewer mainstream class teachers a substitute may be employed, or
  • If there are two teachers absent on the same day on either Family Illness Leave or Self-certified sick leave, a substitute may be employed for the second teachers’ absence

The statutory minimum entitlement to Force Majeure leave is subsumed into teachers’ entitlement to Family Illness Leave. As such, teachers do not have separate entitlements to Family Illness Leave and Force Majeure, and it is important that Family Illness Leave is correctly recorded as such on the OLCS, to ensure the teacher can avail of this superior entitlement.
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BEREAVEMENT LEAVE

Up to five days of paid leave is available to a teacher following the death of a family member or a member of the teachers’ religious community.

The leave entitlement will depend on the teachers’ relationship to the deceased, and when the person died.

Up to five days may be taken in the event of an immediate family members’ death, and a maximum of three days is available following the death of a teacher’s near relative or in-law, or a member of their religious community.

For bereavement leave, those relationships are defined as follows:

  • Immediate family – spouse or partner, parents and step-parents, children and step-children, and siblings
  • Near relatives – grandparents, uncle or aunt, niece or nephew, grandchildren, and  first cousin
  • Inlaws – father or mother-in-law, brother or sister-in-law, and son or daughter in-law

These absences are generally substitutable, but following the death of a teachers’ first cousin, a substitute may only be employed for one day of their absence.

Bereavement leave commences from the day of the death, unless the death occurs after school hours or on a weekend, in which case it starts the following day. The five days or three days must be consecutive from the date of the death or the next day.

Schools are not required to seek or retain evidence of the death or of the teachers’ relationship to the deceased.
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MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR HOSPITAL APPOINTMENTS

The sick leave scheme allows leave to be taken “when absent for the purpose of obtaining medical related services (e.g. Doctor/Dentist) provided such appointments could not have been arranged outside of regular working hours or working days.” (See Chapter One, circular 54/2019.)

Such absences will be recorded on the OLCS as certified sick leave and will have substitute cover.
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WEDDING LEAVE

The teacher’s own wedding

For the teacher’s own wedding, seven consecutive days from the date of the wedding inclusive may be taken (e.g. for a wedding on a Saturday, wedding leave is from Saturday to Friday inclusive; for a wedding on a Friday, wedding leave will be from Friday to the following Thursday.)

For a wedding that takes place during a school closure, leave cannot be carried forward to when the school reopens.

However, if a teacher gets married on, for example, a bank holiday weekend, they will be able to take leave for any days the school is open during the seven days that follow. (E.g.: A teachers’ wedding takes place on the Saturday preceding the May bank holiday; they are allowed leave from Saturday to Friday, but the school will only be open from Tuesday, so the teacher may be absent for four school days.)

A family member’s wedding

For the wedding of a teachers’ family member, a single day of leave may be taken if the wedding takes place on a day the school is open. There is no additional leave entitlement to travel to a wedding.

One day of leave may be taken to attend the wedding of the following family members:

  • Immediate family –parents and step-parents, children and step-children, and siblings
  • Near relatives – grandparents, uncle or aunt, niece or nephew, grandchildren, and first cousin
  • In-laws – father or mother-in-law, brother or sister-in-law, and son or daughter in-law

There is no substitute cover for teachers’ taking wedding leave, for their own or a family member’s wedding.

If additional leave is required, teachers may request their EPV days, or can apply for up to ten days of unpaid leave with substitute cover, granted at the discretion of the Board.
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EXTRA PERSONAL VACATION DAYS (COURSE DAYS)

Earned for undertaking approved courses in the summer closure, up to five EPV days may be used per school year, subject to school policy and Board of Management approval.

No distinction is made between online courses and face-to-face courses for the purpose of earning EPV days.

There is no substitute cover for teachers’ availing of EPV days.

See circular 0037/1997 (DOC) for further details.
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STUDY AND EXAM LEAVE

Up to five days of paid study leave may be taken prior to examinations for a teacher undertaking a recognised third level educational course.

The Board of Management is required to retain evidence of the exams for which the study leave was granted.

Up to five days of paid leave may be taken on the days the exams take place. Evidence of the exams must be submitted by the teacher and retained by the Board.

There is no substitute cover for teachers absent on study leave or exam leave.
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GRADUATION LEAVE

A teacher may take one day of leave to attend their own graduation, or the graduation of an immediate family member.

A teacher may also take one day of leave to attend the ordination, profession, religious reception, garda passing out, or commissioning of an immediate family member.

For this leave, an immediate family member would include the teachers’ spouse or partner, parents and step-parents, children and step-children, and siblings.

There is no substitute cover available for these absences.
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LEAVE TO ATTEND CONFIRMATION

There is no provision made for a teacher to attend the Confirmation of a family member, including the teachers’ own child. An EPV day or unpaid leave may be requested.
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LEAVE TO ATTEND COURT

Attending court on behalf of the school

  • Paid leave may be taken for the number of days required by the court
  • There is substitute cover for these absences

Attending court where the teacher is a plaintiff or defendant in a personal case

  • Unpaid leave for all the days deemed necessary by the court
  • There is substitute cover for these absences

Attending court as a witness under subpoena or summons

  • Paid leave may be taken for the number of days required by the court
  • The DES will not pay a substitute, but the Board may claim payment for substitute cover from the relevant party

Legal separation proceedings

  • Paid leave for one day
  • There is no substitute cover for this absence

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JURY SERVICE

A teacher who is called to serve on a jury may take paid leave for all the days deemed necessary by the court.

There will be substitute cover for these absences.
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REPRESENTING IRELAND AT A SPORTING EVENT

Paid leave may be sanctioned for a teacher who is representing Ireland at an international sporting event. The sport in question must have a national governing body which is recognised by the Sports Council of Ireland.

Evidence of the teacher’s participation in the event and the number of days required must be retained by the Board and submitted to the Department of Education for approval.

There will be substitute cover for these absences if the leave is sanctioned by the Board and DES.
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If you have questions about taking a brief absence, the INTO QueryLine operates 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, on 01 804 7700.