Frequently asked questions

1 February each year.
Any permanent or fixed-term teacher who has completed a full year of service with their current employer (or who will have completed a full year by the time the career break starts).
Submit the application at Appendix A from Chapter Seven of circular 54/2019 (PDF) to your school by the 1 February deadline.

Your employer should notify you by 1 March if your application has been approved.

No, this is a common misconception.

You are limited to taking ten years in total, and not more than five years’ consecutively, but within these limits, you may take career breaks on more than two occasions, subject to your employer’s approval.

The decision of your employer is final and there is no formal appeal process.

If there are exceptional circumstances, you could ask your employer to reconsider their decision, or if you believe they have not adhered to the terms of the circular or policy, you could consider seeking a resolution through the grievance procedures.

Up to 14 April, you can withdraw your application for a career break. After this, it is at the discretion of your employer to allow you to withdraw your application.
Yes. In exceptional circumstances, a school can consider a late application for a career break.
Yes. In exceptional circumstances, a school can approve an application for a career break to commence after 1 September. The career break must finish on 31 August.
Under the normal terms of circular 54/2019 (PDF), you can substitute teach for up to 90 days while on career break.

Per Information Note TC/IN 0007/2023 (PDF), this restriction will be suspended for the duration of the 2023/24 school year.

For the first forty days worked, you will be paid as a casual substitute. From day 41, you will receive your personal rate, reflecting your point on the salary scale.

There is more detailed information here about substitute rates of pay.

All your substitute work on career break will count toward your next increment.

You can take up employment outside the Republic of Ireland, without limit.
Yes, the only limit placed on teachers is on taking an Oireachtas-funded teaching positions.

You can take up any other employment while on career break, including teaching in private schools, third level education, or working in the public sector outside teaching.

Yes. The standard notice period for a permanent teacher resigning is three months, but your employer may accept a shorter notice period.
If you are planning to substitute regularly on career break, you will continue to pay for your INTO membership through salary deductions.

If you aren’t teaching, you can maintain career break membership, at no cost, by notifiying our membership section,, with your name, payroll number and school roll number. Maintaining your INTO membership is particularly important if you wish to retain access to INTO endorsed schemes, such as salary protection.

If you allow your membership to lapse while you are on career break, your subscriptions and membership will restart automatically when you return to school.

You should contact the relevant providers to whom you’re paying these deductions and arrange an alternative means of payment.
You should contact Cornmarket and notify them of your intention to take a career break.

There are three options available while on career break:

  1. Retention of full cover
  2. Move to partial cover
  3. Retention of the Medical Immunity Provision (which applies on re-entry to teaching allowing the resumption of SPS cover without the need for a medical).

A member’s choice of which option to take will depend on what the member plans to do while on Career Break and should be discussed with Cornmarket at least four weeks prior to going on career break.

Alternatively, you may allow cover under the Salary Protection Scheme to lapse entirely, but this will mean you must apply to join the Salary Protection Scheme as a new entrant following your career break.

In order to retain full or partial Salary Protection while on career break, you must retain your INTO membership during each year of your career break break.The annual rate payable by career break members is €30 per school year.

You are still in employment while on a career break, so you will return to service on the same pension scheme.

However, you won’t make pension contributions while you’re not receiving a salary, so in order to address any shortfall when you return to service, you may consider buying Notional Service or Additional Retirement Benefit through DE Primary Pensions, or contributing to AVCs.

Cornmarket can provide financial planning advice to INTO members.

When you take a career break, you are off your DE salary until 31 August, and will not be entitled to paid leave from the DE until your career break ends.

You may be entitled to Maternity Benefit from the DSP, subject to their eligibility rules, details here.

Yes, from 1 September after your career break ends, you will have the same entitlement to paid maternity leave as any other teacher.
However, if you haven’t been paying PRSI during your career break, you may not be eligible to claim Maternity Benefit. (See rules for claims here.)
If your application for Maternity Benefit is refused, you should notify Primary Payroll, and they will not deduct the value of the Maternity Benefit from your salary during your maternity leave.
You need to be back in service for the duration of your last career break before you are eligible for a further career break. So, having been on career break three years, you would need to work for three years before you would be eligible to take another career break.

There are limited exceptions to this rule, set out at part 3.2 of Chapter Seven of circular 54/2019 (PDF).

Chapter Seven of circular 54/2019 (PDF), and on the INTO help and advice page here.