Covid-19: Special leave with pay

Frequently asked questions

Special leave with pay is available to teachers who are self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms while arranging testing or following a positive test result.
Up to five conseecutive days in one instance. These five days will include weekends and other school closures.

Circular 38/2022 was updated by the publication of Information Note TC/IN 0004/2023, effective from 22 May 2023, which reduced the period of Special Leave with Pay from seven to five days. This change relects updated HSE guidance on self-isolation

No, it is separate from your sick leave, and you do not need to claim Illness Benefit while you’re on Special Leave with Pay.
In line with current public health advice, you should stay at home and avoid coitact with other people.

You should notify your employer that you are self-isolating, and should submit the form at Appendix A of circular 38/2022 (PDF). Your initial absence may be recorded as Covid-19: Special Leave with Pay on the OLCS.

When you are self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms, you must arrange either an antigen or PCR test as soon as possible, and within one day of the onset of symptoms.

You may take Special Leave with Pay for five consecutive days in one instance. These five days will include weekends and other school closures.

Circular 38/2022 was updated by the publication of Information Note TC/IN 0004/2023, which reduced the period of Special Leave with Pay from seven to five days. This change relects updated HSE guidance on self-isolation

You will submit the form at Appendix A of circular 38/2022 (PDF) to your employer.

Per Infromation note TC/IN 0004/2023:

“The employee who receives a positive COVID-19 antigen test result must currently report this result on the HSE portal. The employee must provide their employer with confirmation of this HSE record, as supporting evidence (screenshot of relevant HSE text message is acceptable as evidence), including the test date. In the event that the HSE portal is no longer available, a screenshot of the positive test result is acceptable, as evidence of the positive test result.”

As the HSE portal is no longer available, the DE advise that a photograph of a positive home antigen test will suffice to support an application for Special Leave with Pay.

After you test negative for Covid-19, your initial period of special leave with pay will end.

If you are still unfit to work, the ordinary terms of the sick leave scheme will apply to your absence. This will include the requirement to provide a medical certificate if you are absent on sick leave for more than three consecutive days, or if you have taken seven days of self-certified sick leave in the past two years.
If you pay Class A PRSI, you are required to claim Illness Benefit if you are absent on sick leave for any period longer than three days, excluding Sunday, details here.

Please note, the initial period of special leave with pay, while you were symptomatic and awaiting testing, is not part of your sick leave, and you won’t claim Illness Benefit for this part of your absence.

Any period of self-certified sick leave will not have substitute cover.

There is further detail about the sick leave scheme for teachers in Chapter One of Circular 54/2019 (PDF)  and on the INTO website here.

Following your positive Covid-19 test, your school can re-classify the whole absence, to a maximum of five consecutive days, as Covid-19: Special Leave with Pay.

If you have tested positive on a home antigen test, you should report your positive Covid-19 test through the HSE website here. You will receive a text from the HSE, a screenshot of which should be provided to your employer to support your absence on Special Leave with Pay.

If you tested positive on an HSE PCR test, you will receive a text with your results, a screenshot of which should be provided to your employer to support your absence on special leave with pay.

You should submit the form at Appendix A of circular 38/2022 (PDF) to your employer, with evidence of your HSE text message or other evidence of your positive test.

If you are still unfit to work following this period of self-isolation, the normal terms of the sick leave scheme will apply to any further absence.

A medical certificate must be provided for any absence on sick leave in excess of three consecutive days, and if you pay Class A PRSI you may need to claim Illness Benefit.

The obligations of teachers regarding illness benefit are set out in this DE information note (PDF).

Since 1 January 2024, statutory sick pay has increased from three days to five days per year, during which time statutory sick pay should be paid. So, for the first five days of your sick leave in 2024, you will not need to claim Illness Benefit. If your first absence on sick leave in 2024 is for a period of longer than five days, you will need to claim Illness Benefit from the sixth day of leave. After you have used five days of paid sick leave in the 2024 calendar year, the usual three day waiting period to claim Illness Benefit will apply.

There is further detail about the sick leave scheme for teachers in 0013/2024 (PDF) and on the INTO website here.

You can take a maximum of five days of special leave with pay in any one instance, but if you are required to self-isolate again on a subsequent occasion, you can avail of further periods of special leave with pay, subject to the conditions of circular 38/2022.

Circular 38/2022 was updated by the publication of Information Note TC/IN 0004/2023, effective from 22 May 2023, which reduced the period of Special Leave with Pay from seven to five days. This change relects updated HSE guidance on self-isolation

Special leave with pay is not available for the purpose of attending a vaccination or booster appointment.

Sick leave can be used for the purpose of obtaining “medical related services” provided such appointments could not have been arranged outside of regular working hours.

You should provide evidence of your appointment to your employer, and the absence can be recorded as certified sick leave on the OLCS.

Special Leave with Pay is not available for teachers who develop side-effects from their Covid-19 vaccine or booster.
If you are unfit to attend work, the ordinary terms of the sick leave scheme will apply.
The current public health advice does not require a household close contact of a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to restrict their movements or to self-isolate, therefore special leave with pay will not be available in these circumstances.

If you need to take leave to care for your child, you have access to five days of Family Illness Leave per school year.

Full details of Covid-19: Special Leave with pay may be found in circular 38/2022 (PDF).

Circular 38/2022 was further updated by the publication of Information Note TC/IN 0004/2023, effective from 22 May 2023, which reduced the period of Special Leave with Pay from seven to five days. This change relects updated HSE guidance on self-isolation