A guide to the carer's leave scheme for second-level teachers in Ireland.
Carer's Leave Scheme
Carer’s Leave is a period of unpaid leave available to a teacher in order that he/she may provide full-time care and attention for a relevant person.
The person for whom the Carer's leave is being applied for, (referred to as the "relevant person") must first be deemed to be in need of this level of care by the Department of Social Protection.
Therefore, the teacher must first make an application on the prescribed Department of Social Protection CARB1 Form and on approval, subsequently make an application to the employer.
A teacher may apply for Carer's Leave where he/she has satisfactorily completed one year's continuous service with the current employer.
This requirement may be waived in the following instances:
- a teacher compulsorily redeployed into a school, provided he/she has worked at least one full year in his/her former school before being redeployed.
- a teacher seeking carers leave is teaching in a school that was amalgamated within a year of the application date for Carer's Leave.
A teacher who is due to be placed on a panel for redeployment or who is on a panel for redeployment, may not be sanctioned Carer's Leave beyond the end of the school year in which his/her post is to be withdrawn.
Where a teacher has been appointed for a fixed-term contract and the employment would have terminated on the expiry of that fixed-term contract had he/she not been on Carer's Leave, the period of Carer's Leave shall not extend beyond the day on which the fixed-term contract expires.
A teacher absent on Sick leave immediately prior to the start of Carer's Leave must be deemed fit by the OHS to resume duty before commencing Carer's Leave.
Operation of the Scheme
An application for Carer's leave should be made by the teacher to his/her employer at least 6 weeks in advance of the commencement of the leave. A copy of the DSP sanction must be included with the application form which can be located at the back of Carer's Leave Scheme - Circular Letter 0054/2019 - Chapter 6 - Appendix A.
The employer in granting Carer's Leave should, 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the leave, complete, with the teacher, the confirmation document located at the back of Carer's Leave Scheme - Circular Letter 0054/2019 - Chapter 6 - Appendix B.
Period of Carer's Leave
The maximum period of Carer's Leave allowable to care for a person is 104 weeks of unpaid leave and teachers have the option of taking this leave as:
- one continuous period of 104 weeks or,
- one or more periods, the total duration of which does not exceed 104 weeks.
Where Carer's Leave is not taken in one continuous period of 104 weeks, there must be a minimum of 6 weeks intervening period between the periods of Carer's Leave, in respect of the same person.
The minimum statutory entitlement, that may be taken in one period, is 13 weeks.
A teacher is not permitted to be on Carer's leave in respect of more than one person at any one time. However, on one occasion only, a teacher may commence leave in respect of another person where two persons reside together and approval has been received from the DSP for the second person. In such circumstance, an overall total amount of Carer's Leave of 208 weeks can be taken together (104 weeks for each person).
Where a teacher has availed of Carer's leave for one person and needs to avail of further leave for another person, in circumstances where those two individuals do not reside together, then a period of 6 months must elapse from the date of the termination of the leave, in respect of the first person, before a further period of Carer's Leave can commence for the second person.
Termination of Carer's Leave
Carer’s Leave will end on the date specified on the confirmation document, or where the person being cared for ceases to require full-time care and attention or when the person being cared for dies during the period of Carer’s Leave.
In the case of the death of the person being cared for, the teacher can return to school on the date specified in the confirmation document or a date which occurs six weeks after the date of death, whichever is the earlier.
Carer’s Leave may also be terminated if the Department of Social Protection makes a decision that:
- the person in respect of whom the teacher proposed to take or has taken Carer’s Leave, was not or is no longer a relevant person or,
- the teacher does not satisfy the conditions for providing full-time care and attention or,
- the teacher is engaging in or has engaged in employment or self-employment other than as provided for in regulations made by the Minister for Social Protection.
Working, Education/Training while on Carer's Leave
A teacher may engage in substitute teaching, other work outside teaching, undertake training or an education course provided:
- Permission is obtained by the teacher from DSP before he/she commences employment (including substitute teaching), undertakes training or an education course. This is to satisfy DSP that adequate provision is being made for the care of the relevant person.
- The aggregate hours of employment (including substitute teaching), training or education do not exceed the statutory weekly 18.5 hour limit.
- The net earnings from all employment do not exceed the approved weekly limit set by the DSP.
Voluntary Deductions at Source
Voluntary deductions from salary cease when a teacher goes on Carer's Leave.
It is the sole responsibility of a teacher availing of Carer's Leave to ensure that medical insurance policies, income continuance insurance, union subscriptions, credit union payments etc. do not lapse.
For further details of the Carer's Leave Scheme, please refer to Carer's Leave Scheme - Circular Letter 0054/2019 - Chapter 6.