For comprehensive details of the career break scheme, refer Chapter Seven of circular 54/2019, published 1 September 2019.
Registered teachers that will have, at the end of the school year in which they are applying, completed at least twelve months of continuous service with the same employer are eligible to apply for career break.
A career break shall last a minimum period of one school year and may be extended yearly to a maximum of five years at any one time. A teacher can’t take another career break until they have served for a period equal to the length of the career break. This requirement will be waived if the teacher wants to take a career break to undertake voluntary service abroad / missionary / diplomatic / military / Oireachtas or study leave.
A teacher may avail of the career break scheme to a maximum of ten years’ absence over the course of their career.
A career break ordinarily starts on the first day of the school year and ends on the last day of the school year. In exceptional circumstances, an employer can grant a career break starting during the school year but it must continue to the end of that school year and will be considered a one year career break.
A teacher wishing to avail of a career break should apply to their Board of Management using the form at Appendix A of Chapter Seven of circular 54/2019 by 1 February of the school year prior to that in which they propose to start or continue their career break.
While not an exhaustive list, the career break scheme was designed to facilitate teachers with:
- Personal development
- Voluntary service overseas
- Accompanying a spouse/partner on diplomatic/military posting
- Public representation
- Caring for children/dependents
Teachers wishing to extend their career break must apply annually to their employer.
Withdrawing from career break
Other than in exceptional circumstances, a teacher won’t be allowed to withdraw their application for career break later than 14 April.
Teaching while on career break
Ordinarily, under the terms of the career break scheme teachers on career break are precluded from taking up an appointment in any capacity in any school within the State, and may only in exceptional circumstances, be employed as a substitute for a maximum of 90 days in the school year.
However, in light of an ongoing shortage of substitute teachers, this limit has been temporarily removed for the 2019/20 school year, as it was in 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Teachers on career break are still restricted to substitute work only, but may work for the full school year in this capacity.
Teachers on career break will be paid at their personal rate of pay, reflecting their point on the salary scale, after completing 40 school days of subbing, and substitute work undertaken while on career break will count toward their increment.
Returning from Career Break
Teachers intending to return from career break must notify their employer by 1 February of their intention to return to work at the start of the following school year. Teachers should ensure that they are registered with the Teaching Council prior to returning to school. If Teaching Council registration has lapsed while on career break, it is advisable to start this process early.
Teachers that have been on career break for more than two years will have to be screened by Occupational Health Services and deemed medically fit for teaching duties before returning to school.
Deferring Panel Rights
Providing they meet the eligibility criteria, a teacher due to be placed on the main panel can defer their panel rights to avail of a career break. The teacher must notify the Department in writing that they wish to defer panel rights in order to avail of a career break. The teacher’s name will be placed back on the panel at the end of the career break period.
It is a matter for each employer to draw up and maintain its own policy on teacher absences, including career breaks. In any such policy, the welfare and education needs of pupils should be prioritised.
The employer must issue a written notice of approval/refusal of career break to the applying teacher by 1 March at the latest.
Where a career break is granted, the employer should notify the Department of the career break absence via the OLCS/relevant ETB system on or before 1 April. With the exception of ETB schools, the employer should also name any teachers taking career breaks on the annual Change of Staff form. Where a career break is refused, the employer must inform the applicant in writing, setting out the grounds for refusal.
Salary Protection and INTO Membership
Members going on career break are strongly advised to take out Career Break membership of the INTO. This entitles you to the benefits and facilities available to INTO members generally. For members who are in the INTO Salary Protection Scheme (SPS) it is especially important to retain career break membership.
Salary Protection Scheme options while on career break:
Under the terms of the Salary Protection Scheme (SPS) negotiated through Cornmarket Brokers, it is necessary to be a member of the INTO to benefit. There are options ranging from
- retention of full cover to
- partial cover to
- retention of the medical immunity provision (which applies on re-entry to teaching with SPS resumption without need for a medical) while on career break.
A member’s choice of the options above should be indicated to Cornmarket in advance of going on career break. An alternative is to allow cover under the SPS to lapse entirely which will entail a member applying in full as a new applicant for SPS upon their return to service.
In order to retain full or partial SPS cover while on career break, it is essential to be a member of the INTO during each year of your break.
The annual rate payable by career break members is €30 per school year.
If you have questions about your career break, the INTO QueryLine operates 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, on (01) 804 7700.
Last updated: October 2020