Unpaid Personal Leave

A guide to unpaid leave for second-level teachers in Ireland.

Unpaid Personal Leave

Unpaid leave must only be considered in the most exceptional circumstances, where the employer is satisfied that there is a compelling obligation involving absence from duty. Absences under this heading must not be used to substitute other forms of leave, statutory or otherwise and must not be of a recurring nature.

Duration of Unpaid Leave

The maximum amount of unpaid leave which may be taken is 10 school days in a school year. Substitution will be paid by the Department.


Applications for unpaid leave should be made to the employer six weeks prior to the planned commencement date, using the application form location located at Appendix A - Circular letter 0054/2019 - Chapter 11.

The employer must provide the teacher with a written notice of their decision to approve/refuse the leave application. Where an application is refused, the employer must include the grounds for the refusal.

Status during Unpaid Leave

An unpaid leave absence for part of a school day constitutes an absence for a full school day.

A teacher on approved Unpaid Leave is deemed for all purposes to be in employment at that time, with the exception of remuneration and superannuation.

A teacher absent on unpaid leave may not engage in any type of teaching or any other paid employment.


For further information on Unpaid Leave please refer to Circular Letter 0054/2019 - Leave Schemes - Chapter 11.