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Cir.44/2013

(03 Dec 2013)

Circular 44/2013 - Update on Sick Leave
 

Dear Branch Secretary

Further to previous circulars, new sick leave arrangements for Public Servants come into force from 1 January 2014. In particular, from that date paid sick leave will, in ‘ordinary’ course circumstances, be reduced from 6 months full pay followed by 6 months half-pay in a 4- year period to 3 months’ full pay and 3 months’ half-pay in a 4-year period.

 

During discussions on the revised sick leave arrangements the Management side tabled a document reducing the sick leave entitlements of public servants. There was no agreement on this proposal and the matter was referred to the Labour Court by all of the Public Service unions for binding determination. A copy of the Labour Court recommendation can be found here. In making this binding finding, the Labour Court, at the urging of the unions, also made provision for the retention of existing arrangements in cases of ‘critical illness’ and the Labour Court recommended that the parties have discussions to agree a protocol on critical illness. These discussions have been ongoing for some months and they are now heading towards a conclusion. However, there are some issues on which agreement has not been reached and these may be referred back to the Labour Court.

 

When all issues are brought to a conclusion, as ever, a circular will be issued by the employer and Guidance Notes on the Critical Illness Protocol will issue also. They intend also to have an FAQ on their web-site.

 

At the moment there are still some issues outstanding. However, agreement has been reached that there will be a list of requirements, such as being under medical care, being medically unfit to return to work and to have at least one of the following:

 

• Acute life threatening illness
• Chronic progressive illness with well- established potential to reduce life expectancy (if there is no medical intervention)
• Major physical trauma requiring acute operative surgical treatment
• In-patient care of at least 2 weeks

 

There will not be a list of illnesses that are deemed critical.

 

The unions are endeavouring to have some elaboration of these listed criteria to take account of the particular circumstances of mental health, disability and pregnancy related illness. No agreement has been reached on these matters, which will now, probably, be referred to the Labour Court for a binding and final determination.

 

The current position is that the decision to award paid sick leave is a management decision and not just a medical decision. This will continue to apply to critical illness. It will be possible to appeal decisions.

 

The start date of 1 January 2014 was a compromise finding by the Labour Court as management had, in 2012, sought immediate implementation of the new arrangements, which could have taken account of sick leave back to 2008, (because sick leave works on the basis of a 4 year “rolling” look back) while unions in opposing any change had sought that if there was to be a change it should not take place until 2016 so that sick leave from 2012 only would be taken into account. However, while the new arrangements will take account of sick leave since 2010, the existing arrangements also provide for a second ‘look –back’, in which sick leave in a previous 12-months’ period from the date of illness is taken into account in a manner that is advantageous to the staff member. This will be retained.

 

The way that this will be worked is as follows:

There will be a maximum of six months (183 days) paid sick leave at either full or half pay in 4 years looking back from the first day of illness.

 

However, in a case where an officer has had less than 183 days’ sick leave in that period, a second ‘look-back’ over the previous 12 months from the date of illness is undertaken to determine at what rate the officer should be paid. For example, an officer who had, say, 123 days’ sick leave prior to 2013 but had no sick leave in 2013 will, if they take sick leave in 2014, be entitled to sick leave at full pay in 2014 of up to a further 60 days.

 

Following the exhaustion of paid sick leave of the maximum of 183 days in 4 years, an officer is eligible to be paid at the rate of pension to which they are entitled at that point. (‘Pension Rate’ of pay). However, because of confusion between ‘Pension Rate’ and situations where people are retired due to ill health, this will, henceforth, be known as ‘Temporary Rehabilitation Pay, (TRP). Normally, this will only be payable for 18 months, within which time a decision is to be made about whether or not the officer concerned can return to work.

 

This circular is issuing for information purposes only. It is not the definitive document and members should await both the Association’s and the management’s final circulars which will, hopefully, deal with potential queries, especially as the Department intends to have information notes, guidance notes and FAQs.

 

Please circulate this message to all members. This circular will also be placed on the Association’s website www.ahcps.ie


Dave

Dave Thomas
General Secretary
 

© 2017 Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants

  • Fleming's Hall 12 Fleming's Place Dublin 4 
  • Phone: +353 1 6686077 / 6686064
  • Fax: +353 1 6686380
  • Email: info@ahcps.ie

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Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants