Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes

Frequently asked questions

In order to provide significant care or support to someone for a serious medical reason.
Five days in a consecutive twelve-month period.

You should keep track of how many of these days you have used, and when you used them, but your school can also confirm this from the OLCS.

Who can I take this leave to care for? You may be eligible to use this leave to provide care for your:

  • Child (including adopted child, stepchild, and child being cared for on the basis of ‘in loco parentis’)
  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Cohabitant (a partner who you live with)
  • Parent or grandparent
  • Brother or sister
  • Housemate (Person who resides in the same house as you, other than those listed above)

There is an application form at Appendix A of circular 50/2023. You should submit this to your employer as soon as is reasonably practicable, either prior to, or after, availing of the leave.

On the application form, you will state for whom you are providing care, and briefly outline why you are entitled to the leave (i.e. noting the significant care and support you are providing).

Your employer must be satisfied that you are providing significant care or support for a serious medical reason and may request a medical certificate confirming this. If a medical certificate is requested, it does not need to state the specific nature of the person’s illness.

Your employer will confirm in writing whether your application for Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes has been approved or refused, and if the leave is being refused, your employer must state the grounds for the refusal.

Your employer may not be satisfied that you are entitled to this leave. If that’s the case, they must state the reason in the written confirmation of the refusal.

If you believe you have been wrongly refused access to Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes, you will have recourse through the agreed grievance procedures, in the first instance, or the Workplace Relations Commission.

Yes, there is no pro rata reduction to the leave which is available for a job share or part-time teacher. They will also have five days of leave available in a consecutive twelve-month period.

This leave will only be recorded on days when the teacher is scheduled to work.

No, if you are already absent on – or have been approved to take – another statutory or non-statutory leave, you cannot take Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes instead.
On the OLCS, this leave will be recorded under Personal Leave, sub-category Unpaid Leave for Medical Care

However, at the time of publication of circular 50/2023, this leave category on the OCLS was still pending.

The DE advise that the following interim arrangement should be used by schools to record Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes:
(i) Email teachersna@education.gov.ie
(ii) The subject line of the email should read “Unpaid Leave for Medical Care: Interim Arrangement”
(iii) In such cases, the employer must provide the following details to the Department, so that the leave can be recorded:

  • Teacher’s Name
  • Teacher’s PPS Number
  • Roll No. of school where teacher currently employed
  • The start and end date of the absence

Yes, Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes is in addition to teachers’ existing entitlement to paid Force Majeure or Illness in Family Leave, which is up to five days per school year.
A teacher’s absence for part of the school day is regarded as an absence for the whole day.

If you must leave during the school day due to a family medical emergency, this may be recorded as Family Illness Leave or Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes.

Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes counts as service for your incremental progression.

You will not make pension contributions during a period of Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes.

Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes is an approved leave of absence and does not constitute a break in your service.

In addition to Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes, you have five days of Family Illness Leave per school year.

If you need to provide full-time care for several weeks or months, Carer’s Leave may be an appropriate option.

If the person for whom you are caring is your child, Parental Leave may be an option.

You may consider applying for a Career Break or to Job Share to provide care.

The INTO Leave Estimator has additional FAQs for all these leave types of leave.

Circular 50/2023 sets out the full terms and conditions for Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes.