Sick Leave Scheme for Registered Teachers effective from 1st September 2014

Teachers are entitled to self-certified and certified sick leave.  Certified sick leave is divided into “ordinary illness” leave and “critical illness” leave. Ordinary illness is any illness which is not regarded as critical illness. Critical illness is a serious illness or physical injury which results in the teacher being seriously debilitated. Teachers may also be entitled to a period of Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration or TRR  at the end of paid sick leave entitlement (see below).   

Self-certified Sick Leave

Teachers have an entitlement to seven days paid self-certified sick leave over a two year rolling period (previously called uncertified sick leave). Self-certified sick leave is subject to certain criteria. A teachers’ self-certified sick leave is included when calculating entitlements to ordinary illness leave and critical illness leave.

Requirement for Medical Certificate / Social Welfare Certificate (MC1)

Eligible teachers may take a maximum of 4 consecutive school days sick leave without providing a medical certificate in Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools and in the case of ETBs 3 consecutive days may be taken before presenting a medical cert.  In the case of Class A PRSI contributors the MC1 Social Welfare Certificate must be submitted to the Department of Education and Skills/ ETB after more than 6 days of sick leave for referral to the Department of Social Protection.  The MC1 provides illness benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection, but as the Department of Education & Skills provides paid sick leave, the illness benefit payment will be paid to them instead. In order for this to be possible, upon completion of the form, the MC1 should be forwarded to the Department of Education & Skills Payroll Section who will in turn complete the account details section and return it to the Department of Social Protection on your behalf.  The MC1 form is required for PRSI compliance.  Such Class A PRSI contributors must see your doctor and send in an intermediate medical certificate called the MC2 each week for as long as you are ill, unless you are told otherwise.  These forms are available from your doctor.

Certified Sick Leave

Ordinary Illness

A teacher who is absent from duty because of personal illness or injury may be granted paid ordinary sick leave as follows: 

  • A maximum of three months (92 days) fully paid in a year.
  • Followed by a maximum of three months (91 days) on half pay.

This is subject to a maximum of six months (183) days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period.

Critical Illness

A teacher who becomes incapacitated as a result of critical illness or serious physical injury may be granted extended paid sick leave, subject to specific criteria as follows:

  • A maximum of six months (183 days) on full pay in a year.
  • Followed by a maximum of six months (182 days) on half pay.

This  is subject to a maximum of 12 months (365 days) paid sick leave in a rolling four year period.  If a teacher has an ordinary illness within a 12-month period of the start date of the granting of critical illness, the critical illness provisions will apply.  

Applying for “Critical Illness” Leave

  • Apply to the school in writing for access to critical illness provisions
  • School refers this to the Occupational Health Service (Medmark)
  • A copy of the referral is given to the teacher
  • The teacher provides a comprehensive Doctor to Doctor report from his/her consultant to the OHS
  • OHS will then advise the school if critical illness criteria are met

Critical illness criteria:  at least one of the following:

  • Acute life threatening physical illness
  • Chronic progressive illness with well established potential to reduce life expectancy
  • Major physical trauma
  • Inpatient hospital care of two consecutive weeks or greater (two consecutive days in the case of pregnancy related illness).
  • Employer (school/ETB) must consider the OHS advice
  • Where critical illness provisions are not awarded, this may be appealed by the teacher.

Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration (TRR)

Where the relevant period of sick leave has been exhausted, a teacher with a minimum of five years’ service (in a pensionable position either in a whole-time or part-time capacity) may be granted TRR subject to certain conditions at the end of the period of sick leave. TRR will be calculated on the basis of:

  • Pensionable pay, and
  • Paid pensionable service accrued in the employment at the time the paid sick leave was exhausted, together with the added years which would be awarded if ill health retirement were granted.

It is also important to note that the granting of TRR is subject to the following conditions:

  • The period during which TRR is paid is not a period of pensionable service. 
  • The granting of TRR will be conditional at all times on the Occupational Health Service confirming that there is a reasonable prospect of recovery and return to work.
  • TRR will not exceed 18 months (548 days) in the case of ordinary illness.
  • TRR will not exceed 24 months (730 days) in the case of critical illness (subject to six monthly reviews) 

Unpaid Sick Leave

For teachers who don’t qualify for TRR the following applies: A teacher who has exhausted the maximum period of paid sick leave and who is still medically unfit to resume duty but wishes to retain his/her position in the school, must notify the employer of his/her intention to avail of a period of unpaid sick leave. After such a period of unpaid sick leave he/she may resume teaching if certified fit to do so. This period of sick leave shall not normally exceed the TRR limits.

Teachers on sick leave prior to September 1, 2014

Teachers currently on sick leave, whose leave period began prior to September 1 2014, will continue to avail of the pre September 2014 sick leave arrangements for that absence – i.e. a maximum of 365 days of paid sick leave in a rolling four year period. Following a resumption of duties, any subsequent sick leave absence will be dealt with under the new arrangements.

Click here for information on the old sick leave arrangements.

Calculation of Brief Absences

In exceptional circumstances where it is necessary for a teacher, with Management approval,  to be absent from class teaching for periods of less than a full school day for medical reasons, e.g. attendance at medical appointments, the actual period of absence will be recorded at school level.  Details of the absence will be retained by the Management. These details will include the nature and duration of the absence.  Teachers are also advised to keep their own record of such absences.  These absences are then accumulated and counted in blocks of one school day.

For the purpose of the reckoning of these absences each school day is 4 hours and 24 minutes (i.e. 22 hours divided by 5).

The Department of Education and Skills is prepared to take account of these exceptional partial absences as recorded and certified by the Management as owing to illness in the calculation of the paid sick leave arrangements.

A teacher who is notified of the level of sick leave absences may request the Department to take cognisance of these partial absences as recorded and retained by the Board of Management. The Department of Education and Skills will make the appropriate adjustment to the level of sick leave absences where warranted.

On request the Department will forward to a teacher an up to date listing of the number of days recorded as "absent due to illness". A list may also be obtained from the school using the Online Claims Systems. 

Job-sharing teachers

Sick leave periods are calculated retrospectively and include weekends, school closures and days on which a teacher is not timetabled for attendance (e.g. jobsharers), occurring within the period of absence e.g. 

  • If a teacher is timetabled for 3 days a week eg., Monday, Wednesday and Friday and if the teacher is absent on Monday and Wednesday, then it counts as 3 days sick leave.
  • If a teacher is timetabled for 4 days a week and does not work on a Wednesday and if the teacher is absent on Monday and Tuesday and back in school on Thursday then it counts as 2 days sick leave. 

Casual part-time teachers

Casual part-time, hourly paid, teachers have no formal entitlement to sick leave payment. However, a Class A PRSI contributor casual part-time teacher may, after more than 6 days of absence, be eligible for payment of Social Welfare Sickness Benefits during absences due to illness although this is dependent on the fulfilment of certain contribution qualifying conditions.  Details are available from the Department of Social Protection. www.welfare.ie

Medical Certificates

To be acceptable, a medical certificate must 

  • state fitness to work or otherwise
  • cover the full period of the absence from the date of last attendance (first day of absence from school) or from the expiry of the last medical certificate
  • be signed by a duly qualified medical practitioner registered with the Irish/UK  Medical/Dental  Council
  • normally cover a period of no more than one week.  However, certification for periods of up to one month may be permitted at the discretion of the employer.
  • Medical certificates should be supplied to the Principal of the school who will input the details on to the Online Claims System.  The Principal retains the certificate.

Notification of Sick Leave

Any teacher who is absent due to illness must notify his/her employer as early as possible on the first day of absence.  The teacher should, where possible, indicate the likely duration of the absence. 

Resumption of duty

Prior to resumption of duties a teacher who is absent on paid sick leave for 4 or more continuous weeks, or absent for any period of TRR/unpaid sick leave or a shorter period where the employer has reasonable grounds for concern must submit a medical certification of fitness for duties.

Where a teacher is absent on sick leave and has not returned to duty for a reasonable period before and after a period of school closure, the teacher will be deemed to be on sick leave for the whole duration unless 

  • the teacher provides a medical certificate of fitness to resume full duties prior to or during a period of school closure and
  • the advice of the OHS as to the teacher’s fitness for full duties has been obtained as to whether the school closure period or any part thereof might be discounted and
  • the OHS has deemed the period of return to duty to be reasonable taking into account the medical circumstances in individual cases.
     

Maternity Related Illness Provisions

 If a pregnant teacher is medically unfit for work due to a pregnancy related illness and has exhausted sick leave at half pay she will continue to receive sick leave at half pay for the duration of her pregnancy-related illness. This is regardless of whether she has reached the maximum limit for half pay due to prior sick leave.

If a teacher is unfit for work following maternity leave, her access to sick leave at half-pay will be extended by the period of absence on sick leave at half pay due to pregnancy-related illness, which occurred before she went on maternity leave.

Click here for an update on discounting of pregnancy related sick leave which occurred prior to 1st September 2014

Employee Assistance Service

The purpose of the Employee Assistance Service (EAS) is to provide teachers and their immediate family members with easy access to confidential counselling and to assist in coping with the effect of personal and work related issues such as health, relationships, bereavement, stress, conflict, critical incident and trauma.  The service is available to teachers whose positions are funded by the Department of Education and Skills, their spouses or partners, their dependents above the age of 16 and mother / father where appropriate.

Carecall Wellbeing has been contracted by the Department of Education and Skills to deliver the Employee Assistance Service.  Through the EAS, counselling services are available from a range of professional counsellors and psychotherapists.  

The following services are available:

  • Face to face counselling - based upon a short term model of up to six counselling sessions.
  • Single session or short term structured telephone counselling.

The EAS staff follow ethics and codes of practice and are bound by the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP).  This means that any contact remains confidential.  

To access the service, phone freephone number 1800 411057.  This service is available 24 hours a day / 365 days a year.

Referral of Teachers to the Occupational Health Service

An employer has a duty under Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees”.  The Occupational Health Service has been put in place to assist the employer in carrying out this duty.

The Department of Education and Skills has appointed Medmark Limited, a company specialising in occupational medicine, to provide an Occupational Health Service for the 55,000 teachers in the Republic of Ireland.  This company has a team of 12 physicians in centres in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.  Medmark states that its operating philosophy is as set out for occupational health by the World Health Organisation:

  • The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers.
  • The prevention of ill-health caused by working conditions.
  • The protection of workers from occupational risks.

The Medmark office administering the Occupational Health Service for Teachers is located at 28 Penrose Wharf, Cork City.  More information on the company and its services can be found at www.medmark4teachers.ie

The Occupational Health Service incorporates pre-employment health assessments, sickness absence referrals, medical assessments of fitness for work and ill health retirement assessments. 

The employer in making a referral should follow the OHS Standard Operating Procedures Manual.

The criteria for the referral of teachers to the OHS are as follows: 

  • Non-discretionary: any teacher on sick leave who has 4 weeks (28 days) continuous or cumulative sick leave absence in a 12 month rolling period of teaching service.
  • Discretionary: Teachers about whom the employer has reasonable concerns relating to their medical fitness for work. 

The teacher is required to cooperate and engage with the OHS. While many assessments will not require attendance, it is a matter for the OHS to decide in what circumstances a teacher may be required to attend for medical assessment and/or arrange for the transmission to the OHS (by the teacher’s attending doctor) of a comprehensive doctor-to-doctor report

Pre-Employment Health Assessments

Successful candidates for teaching positions are required to complete a medical questionnaire which is sent by the teacher to Medmark.  This questionnaire is standard and asks a range of questions about a teacher’s medical history.  Based on this, a small percentage of teachers will be required to present for a comprehensive examination at a venue agreed with Medmark.  The Occupational Health Service report, which will be issued to the employer, will state that the teacher either is or is not medically fit for the position.  If, in the view of Medmark, physical adjustments or other reasonable accommodations can be made to the workplace in order to facilitate the teacher, such recommendations will be made. 

FAQ

Click here for frequently asked questions on new Sick Leave arrangements.

Ill-Health Retirement

A teacher who believes that he or she is permanently medically unfit for work may apply for early retirement on grounds of ill-health. Retirement on the grounds of ill-health is available from any age up until 60 for teachers appointed before April 2004, and up to 65 years of age for teachers appointed after this date. A teacher with more than 5 years of pensionable service, who retires due to ill-health, receives a lump sum and fortnightly pension based on their pensionable service to date enhanced by “added years”. Teachers with fewer than 5 years of pensionable service may receive a once-off disablement gratuity. Teachers who are considering making an application for retirement on medical grounds should contact the ASTI immediately. The application process is quite complex and the ASTI will provide support and advice to teachers embarking on this process.

A decision to award a disability pension is made exclusively on the medical evidence presented to the Occupational Health Service, Medmark. Some applications arise very quickly from the most serious medical diagnoses, but more typically an application emerges after a period of chronic illness that has necessitated an extended absence from school on sick leave. In such circumstances it is essential that a teacher has been under the care of a consultant-level medical professional for several months preceding the making of an application. Applications are made based on a diverse range of serious medical conditions. These include physical illness or disability, such as cancer, coronary heart disease, musculo-skeletal problems or voice and hearing issues; psychiatric issues, such as depression, acute anxiety and severe work-related stress; and neurological and rheumatological conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is very important to state that all illnesses or disabilities are equally authentic and are treated with the same seriousness and sensitivity by the Occupational Health Service.

Applying for retirement on medical grounds

A teacher who intends to apply for medical retirement should contact the ASTI in the first instance for advice and support. The application process requires the completion of an application for retirement on medical grounds (RETD1 form) and a confidential medical report (TMED1 form). Both forms are available to download from the website of the Department of Education & Skills (DES) at http://bit.ly/1wLAHWe. The application form (RETD1) is completed by the teacher and sent to the DES Pensions Section via the teacher’s school which acknowledges the form by way of signature and school stamp. The confidential medical report form (TMED1) is completed by the teacher and forwarded to their GP who includes a report from the teacher’s medical consultant(s) before returning the form directly to Medmark. Once Medmark has received the TMED1 form an appointment for a medical examination is scheduled for the teacher with a specialist doctor. In exceptional cases, a decision may be made without the need for the teacher to attend for assessment. Medmark make a recommendation to the DES on whether the teacher should be granted retirement on medical grounds solely on the basis of the medical reports and face-to-face assessment. It is essential, therefore, that the medical evidence is comprehensive and addresses diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Medmark will expect the teacher’s application for retirement on medical grounds to be supported by their treating physician(s) and for the medical report(s) to demonstrate that all reasonable medical interventions (surgical, pharmacological and therapeutic as appropriate) have been attempted. If a teacher is refused retirement on the grounds of ill-health he or she may appeal the decision within 30 days of notification. The teacher will be requested to attend for further assessment with a doctor the teacher shall choose from a panel of registered medical practitioners who are qualified to assess medical fitness for work. If unsuccessful at appeal a teacher must wait for 12 months before they may make a further application for retirement on medical grounds.

It is most unusual for a teacher who has retired on medical grounds to return to teaching work. Such a return to Department paid teaching work would require specific approval from the DES. The continued payment of a disability pension to a teacher who is under 50 years of age is subject to review whereby Medmark may request an update on the teacher's state of health.

Disability Pension Benefit

As with all pension benefits the level of lump sum and fortnightly pension that is due to a teacher who retires on medical grounds is calculated with reference to that teacher’s pensionable service and gross annual salary on the date of retirement. The calculation of the value of retirement benefits depends on the rate of PRSI contributions (D1 or A1) that a teacher makes to the social insurance fund. The ASTI can assist a teacher in calculating these pension benefits. Teachers retiring on medical grounds, who have more than five years of pensionable service, are also awarded “added years” of pensionable service which can significantly enhance the value of their pension benefits. The following examples refer to teachers who pay PRSI at the D1 rate:

(a)     Less than five years' membership of the Superannuation Scheme:

A teacher with less than five Years' Membership of the Superannuation Scheme is not eligible to receive a disability pension but may be eligible for a once off payment of a limited disablement gratuity based on their salary and number of years' service.

(b)     Minimum of five and less than 10 years' membership of the Superannuation Scheme:

A teacher with a minimum of five and less than 10 years' membership of the Superannuation Scheme is eligible to receive a disability pension based on either double the amount of years they are in the scheme or the number of years the teacher would have attained had the teacher stayed in employment until compulsory retirement age (65 years), whichever is the lesser.

(c)    Minimum of 10 and less than 20 years' membership of the Superannuation Scheme:

A teacher with a minimum of 10 and less than 20 years' membership of the Superannuation Scheme is eligible to receive a disability pension based on the more favourable of the following two options:

i)     the lesser of either 20 pensionable years or the number of years the teacher would have attained had the teacher stayed in employment until compulsory retirement age (65 years).

ii)     the lesser of either a teacher’s actual pensionable service increased by 6 and 2/3 years or the number of years the teacher would have attained had the teacher stayed in employment until 60 years of age.

(d)    greater than 20 Years membership of the Superannuation Scheme:

A teacher with greater than 20 years membership of the Superannuation Scheme is eligible to receive disability pension based on an addition of 6 and 2/3 years to the number of years that the teacher is in the Superannuation Scheme provided that the total number of years does not exceed the amount of pensionable service which the teacher would have accrued by age 60. 

Salary Protection Scheme (Permanent Health Insurance)

This is a private disability and death benefit insurance preferential scheme for ASTI members. It is governed by rules drawn up by Cornmarket and the underwriters. The Scheme is administered by Cornmarket and currently underwritten by Irish Life. Every few years the Scheme is reviewed by Cornmarket. The next review will take place in 2018.

1) Disability benefit:

Once a member has been unable to work due to disability for a total of 52 weeks in any period of 4 consecutive years after the date of entry to the Scheme, a benefit of 75% of predisability salary less Early Retirement Pension (ERP) entitlement is paid. Where a member is not in receipt of ERP, an amount equivalent to 75% of pre-disability is paid out (benefit will be paid at this level for up to 2 years).

Definition of Disability:

Disability means that the member is totally unable to engage in his/her duties as a teacher by reason of illness or injury and is not following any other occupation, for remuneration, profit or reward.

Benefit is paid until the member is deemed fit to return to work by Irish Life, recovery, death, or the attainment of ceasing age, currently the member’s 60th birthday.

Increase in benefit while claim is being paid

Once a claim is in payment, the benefit paid will increase each year by an amount equal to the rate of increase in the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12 months subject to a maximum of 5% per annum compound.

2) Death benefit:

Two times gross annual salary at the date of death is payable to the estate of deceased members. Periodically members have been offered a ‘top up’ of up to an additional 2 times gross annual salary.

Changes to teachers’ sick leave

The ASTI Salary Protection Scheme has been amended to reflect changes to teachers’ sick leave arrangements which take effect from September 2014. The Salary Protection Scheme will now pay out benefits earlier than before.

Tax relief on members’ contributions

Tax relief is available on that part of the member’s contribution going towards the Disability Benefit. There is no relief for the Death Benefit contribution,though benefits remain tax-free. The cost of membership is typically less than €15 a week.

2014 review of scheme

The 2014 review of the ASTI Salary Protection Scheme resulted in a 22 per cent decrease in the cost of membership of the scheme.

For full details on the operation of the Scheme including cost of membership, and how to claim contact Cornmarket. Tel: 01-4084166 or log to the Cornmarket website.

Half price offer for new members under age 40

ASTI members who join the Scheme for the very first time will pay half price for the first 12 months. (Offer available until 31st March 2015. Other terms & conditions apply).

For full details, please CLICK HERE