Following recent public statements by the Minister for Education regarding teachers’ entitlement to Pregnancy Related Sick Leave, ASTI submitted the following on August 26th seeking clarification:
We understand that a member of the media was provided with the following statement of position regarding Pregnancy Related Sick Leave (PRSL) by the Department of Education.
“If you avail of sick leave in the future, all previous pregnancy related sick leave is discounted, and your balance of sick leave days will reflect what it would have been if you have never taken any pregnancy related sick leave.”
This is not in accordance with our understanding of how the provisions of Circular 0054/2019 have been operated to date.
We would appreciate if we could provide us with a written clarification of the position regarding its operation in terms of the method for calculation of days and attendant payment arrangements so that we can bring same to the attention of our members.
Some worked examples would be especially helpful.
Not having received a reply, the General Secretary followed up the query to the Department of Education on 3rd September as follows:
We now have two categories of teachers contacting us and we don’t know what to tell them.
(a) Those who are gone out now on PRSL and are asking about their entitlements and how they will be affected under the scheme etc.
(b) Those who have previously taken PRSL and now wonder were their entitlements properly applied and would they need to be revisited.
I would ask that the necessary clarifications that are required be provided as a matter of urgency.
On 3rd September, we have received the following reply:
I refer to your recent communication with regard to Pregnancy Related Sick Leave. In response to the two questions (a) and (b), the existing provisions of the Sick Leave Scheme (Circular 0054/2019), which includes Pregnancy Related Sick Leave (PRSL), remain in place for teachers.
As part of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme, a pregnant teacher may avail of medically certified Pregnancy Related Sick Leave (PRSL) during her pregnancy. A pregnant teacher absent on PRSL, who has exhausted the Sick Leave limits under the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme, will have access to an extended period of paid Sick Leave, which will not be less than half pay, for the duration of the PRSL absence.
I can confirm that the number of PRSL days taken will not impact on the normal Sick Leave entitlement within the rolling 4 year period (i.e. a threshold comprising access to 183 days paid certified sick leave). The rate of pay for subsequent Sick Leave taken, following the PRSL absence, is calculated based on the individual teacher’s Sick Leave record (including PRSL) using the dual look back system. If teachers have specific questions about their own entitlements they should contact email@example.com, where their individual queries can be worked through.
I have included below a number of worked examples to demonstrate.
1. A teacher, Mary, who has previously not availed of Sick Leave in the previous 4 years, is pregnant. She is medically certified as unfit for work and goes on Sick Leave. Mary will have access to Sick Leave on full pay for 92 days and on half pay for a further 91 days if required. She will not go on less than half pay during this period. (If Mary had availed of any full pay Sick Leave within the previous 12 months, the number of days would be subtracted from the allowance of 92 days full pay available.)
If Mary needs to avail of paid Sick Leave in the future, she will still have access to 183 days paid Sick Leave.
2. A teacher, Sarah, had 40 days full pay Sick Leave in 2019. In August 2021, Sarah is pregnant. She is medically certified as unfit for work and goes on Sick Leave. Sarah will have access to Sick Leave on full pay for 92 days and any remaining time during this period of Leave will be on half pay. Sarah will not go on less than half pay during this period.
3. A teacher, Meabh, is on Sick Leave in 2022. Her 4 year Sick Leave total is 200 days with 50 of these days being PRSL. This means her 4 year total will be reduced by the number of PRSL days to 150 days (200 days minus 50 days). Meabh will then have access to the number of days between her new total and the overall threshold of 183 days at half pay only. This will be 33 days at half pay (183 days minus 150 days).