IMPACT defends sick leave

2nd April 2012

IMPACT AND other unions will defend arrangements for paid long-term sick leave when talks on public service sick leave and its management start soon. The Government has signalled its intention to legislate to revise sick leave arrangements from this year.

Current arrangements generally allow six months fully-paid leave for certified sicknesses followed by six months on half pay. IMPACT says a blanket reduction would do little to address any abuse of the system, but would have a disastrous effect on those who suffer catastrophic and life-threatening illnesses regardless of their previous sick leave record.

There have been press reports that management could seek to halve the amount of paid certified sick leave in all circumstances. It has also been speculated that management might seek to reduce the amount of uncertified sick leave available, despite the fact that, on average, civil servants take less than two days of the allowable seven days uncertified sick leave each year.

IMPACT has briefed TDs and senators on the issue in advance of negotiations, which are expected to start soon. Significant changes are likely to be sought as management has indicated to unions that the current cost of sick leave cannot be sustained.

IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said comparisons between sick leave levels in the public and private sectors were not always reliable and argued that management already had the tools to deal with any abuse of sick leave that may exist. “Workers in the public and private sector are equally intolerant of colleagues who ‘swing the lead’ and expect management to deal with the issue firmly and fairly. That does not mean reducing paid leave for people with cancer and other serious illnesses,” he said.

In the absence of agreement on the issue, it is likely that the Labour Relations Commission or Labour Court would become involved in seeking a resolution.