Career Break

Guide to the Career Break Scheme for second-level teachers in Ireland.

Career Break Scheme

The main objective of the career break scheme is to facilitate applicants in the areas of:

  • Personal Development
  • Voluntary Service Overseas
  • Accompany spouse/partner on Diplomatic/Military Posting
  • Education purposes
  • Public Representation
  • Family reasons
  • Self-employment

Duration of Career Break

A career break shall be a period of no less than 1 school year and may be extended on an annual basis, provided the total period of the career break does not exceed 5 years at any one time.

A subsequent career break may not be taken until the teacher has served for a period equal to the duration of the previous career break. In the case of a teacher wishing to avail of a career break to undertake voluntary service abroad/missionary/diplomatic/military/Oireachtas/ or study leave, this requirement will be waived.

The teacher may engage in this scheme subject to an overall maximum absence of 10 years in the course of his/her professional career.

A career break shall commence on the start of a school year and a return to duty in the school/ETB which granted the career break shall not be permitted other than on the start of the succeeding school year.

In exceptional circumstances, an employer may authorise a teacher to commence a career break during the course of a school year and terminate not earlier than the end of that school year.


A teacher may apply for a career break where he/she:

  • Is registered with the Teaching Council
  • Has satisfactorily completed, at the end of the school year in which they are applying, 12 months continuous service with the current employer.

Application Process

A teacher seeking a career break must submit the completed Application Form at Appendix A - Career Break Scheme - Circular Letter 0054/2019 - Chapter 7 to the employer not later than the 1st February of each school year prior to that in which he/she proposes to commence/continue the career break.

The application must provide clear details of the exact purpose of the career break.

A teacher who wishes to extend his/her career break must apply on an annual basis.

Each application for or extension of a career break shall be considered on its own merits by the employer within the context of the school's policy statement. The decision of the employer shall be final.


The employer shall issue written notice of approval or refusal to the teacher by 1st March at the latest and submit notice of the career break to the Department (via the OLCS) /relevant ETB system on or before 1st April.

Where an application for a career break is refused, the employer must inform the applicant in writing setting out the grounds for such a refusal.

Taking into account the arrangements to be put in place by the employer to cater for a career break, the applicant shall not be permitted to withdraw his/her application after the 14th April.

Resumption of Duty following a Career Break

A teacher must notify the employer by the 1st February of his/her intention to return to teaching from a career break at the beginning of the next school year. Failure to do so may result in the return being deferred for a further school year.

It is the responsibility of the teacher returning from a career break to ensure that he/she is registered with the Teaching Council. The ASTI strongly advise our members to maintain their Teaching Council Registration at all times.

A teacher returning from career break in excess of two school years shall be screened by the Occupational Health Service (OHS).

Voluntary Deductions at Source

Voluntary deductions from salary cease when a teacher goes on career break.

It is the sole responsibility of a teacher availing of a career break to ensure that medical insurance policies, income continuance insurance, union subscriptions, credit union payments do not lapse.

For further details on the career break scheme, please refer to Career Break Scheme - Circular Letter 0054/2019 - Chapter 7.


Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the questions we get asked the most here.

  • Frequently Asked Questions on Career Break
    For family reasons, I am considering taking a career break for one year from this September. How do I go about this? First of all, you should note that the application should be made by 1st February for the following... Read more

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