Updates for Very High Risk teachers and teachers on extended Covid-19 leave (14 June 2022)

On 26 May, the DE published information note 06/2022, and on 8 June, published circular 38/2022. Please note Information Note TCC 006/2022 has now been superseded by Circular 38/2022. The publications contain important updates in respect of the management of Covid-19 for the 2022/23 school year.

All the FAQs in the INTO Covid-19 Support Hub will be updated after 1 July 2022 when these changes take effect, but in the interim, teachers should note the following.

I am currently categorised as Very High Risk and have been facilitated to work remotely during 2021/22. What changes will take effect from 1 July 2022?

Under the terms of circular 38/2022, all risk categorisations will expire at the latest on 30 June 2022, and new assessments will not be available.

After 1 July, a teacher who was previously categorised as Very High Risk, or a pregnant teacher categorised as being at High Risk and working in a special education setting, and who is fit to work, must attend the workplace when schools reopen.

What do schools need to do in respect of Very High Risk teachers, or pregnant teachers categorised as High Risk and working in special education settings?

Where a teacher has heretofore been recorded under the OLCS leave category, Covid-19: Very High Risk, employers must insert an end-date of 30 June on the employee’s leave record on the OLCS.

Employers are advised to carry out a workplace risk assessment before Very High Risk teachers or High Risk pregnant teachers return to the workplace. There is guidance on the HSE website for schools carrying out risk assessments here.

What do I do if I was categorised as Very High Risk in 2021/22, and will not be fit to return to school in September 2022?

You are advised to notify your employer if you are unfit to return to work at the commencement of the new school year. Your employer will refer you to the OHS, in line with protocol set out in the Employers Procedures Manual. This referral should take place before the start of the new school year.

If the OHS reports that you are unfit to work, the normal conditions of the sick leave scheme will apply, as set out in Chapter One of circular 54/2019. Taking account of your individual medical circumstances, this may include some or all of the summer closure being recorded retrospectively as sick leave.

Can I apply for Health and Safety Leave, as I am pregnant and at High Risk from Covid-19?

Circular 38/2022 states that a pregnant teacher may not apply for Maternity Health and Safety Leave based solely on the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace. However, there may be other circumstances or conditions that could warrant the granting of Health and Safety Leave.

If you are medically unfit to attend work, the normal conditions of the sick leave scheme will apply, including the provision for Pregnancy Related Sick Leave, as set out in Chapter One of circular 54/2019.

I was diagnosed with Covid-19 before 7 February 2022, and am currently on extended Special Leave with Pay. What changes will take effect from 1 July 2022?

Under the terms of circular 38/2022, with effect from 1 July 2022, if you have been absent on extended Covid-19 Special Leave with Pay, and remain medically unfit for work after that date, you will be subject to the normal terms of the Sick Leave Scheme.

I was diagnosed with Covid-19 before 7 February 2022, and am currently on extended Special Leave with Pay. I expect to be fit to return to work in September 2022. What does my employer need to do?

As with the sick leave scheme, if you have been absent on extended special leave you must be assessed as medically fit to work before returning to the workplace.

The Occupational Health Service, Medmark, should already have provided you with either a future date of medical fitness to work, or a date for a further medical review.

The period from 1 July until you are confirmed as fit to work will be recorded as sick leave, and the normal terms of the sick leave scheme will apply.

If you wish to resume your duties before a date previously specified by the OHS, your employer must refer you to the OHS by 17 June 2022 for a fitness to work assessment.

As part of this referral process, the employer must complete the online ‘Discretionary’ referral form through the OHS online portal. The employer must provide you with a copy of the referral.

If you are deemed fit, the OHS report will include a date for the resumption of duties (which may fall during the summer closure).

If you are deemed unfit for work, sick leave will apply during the period from 1 July until the teacher if assessed as being fit for work.

I was diagnosed with Covid-19 before 7 February 2022, and am currently on extended Special Leave with Pay. What happens if I do not engage with the Occupational Health Service in relation to my leave?

If you are on extended Covid-19 leave and are not referred to the OHS, or do not engage with the Medmark assessment, the terms of the sick leave scheme will apply from 1 July until you are deemed fit to work.

What happens if I am deemed fit for work by Medmark on 1 July, but am subsequently sick in September and cannot return to the workplace?

If you are absent immediately prior to 1 July on extended special leave with pay, and are found fit by Medmark to return directly after this date, but are subsequently absent on sick leave at the start of the 2022/23 school year, the summer closure must be recorded as sick leave by the employer.

However, the employer can refer you to Medmark for an assessment, to determine whether the summer closure can be excluded from the teacher’s sick leave record, based on the teacher’s specific medical circumstances.

I was diagnosed with Covid-19 before 8 February 2022, and am currently on extended Special Leave with Pay. I am still unwell, and my doctor does not expect me to be fit to return to school in September 2022. What leave will be available, and what does my employer need to do?  

The Occupational Health Service, Medmark, should already have provided you with either a future date of medical fitness to work, or a date for a further medical review.

The period from 1 July until you are confirmed as fit to work will be recorded as sick leave, and the normal terms of the sick leave scheme will apply, as set out in Chapter One of circular 54/2019.

If I am going to be on a period of extended sick leave after 30 June, what do I need to do?

The terms of the teachers’ sick leave scheme are set out in Chapter One of circular 54/2019, and there is further information here on the INTO website.

You will need to continue to provide your school with medical certificates, which may cover a period of up to one month, subject to school policy.

On sick leave, teachers who pay Class A PRSI, are required to claim Illness Benefit from the DSP whenever they are absent on sick leave for more than three consecutive days, excluding Sundays.

This claim is made using an IB1 and MED1 form, obtained from the teacher’s GP. An IB1 can also be submitted online through MyWelfare, if the claimant has a MyGovID account. For an online application, the teacher’s doctor will need to submit a Certificate of Incapacity electronically to the DSP.

You should ensure your bank details are correct on your IB1, as the benefit payment will issue directly to the absent teacher, and Primary Payroll will adjust your salary during your absence.

If you are ineligible for Illness Benefit, or if it is being paid at a reduced rate, you should notify payroll, and the salary adjustment will be corrected.

 

Still have questions?

Submit your query by email to INTO. Please include your payroll or membership number.