New sick leave protocol published

Changes to apply from March

A protocol on how new public service certified sick leave arrangements will be applied has been published. IMPACT has also issued a ‘your questions answered’ document to clarify what the new arrangements will mean for members.

The main change is that, in future, a distinction will be made between ‘critical’ and ‘non-critical’ illnesses when implementing paid sick leave arrangements. The amount of paid leave for non-critical illnesses will be halved to three months on full pay, followed by three months on half pay. However, IMPACT and other unions successfully argued that staff with critical illnesses should keep the existing arrangement of six months on full pay, followed by six months on half pay.

The new protocol sets out procedures for defining a ‘critical’ illness. It also clarifies how an individual’s eligibility for full and half-paid leave will be determined.

The changes are rooted in a commitment, in the original Croke Park agreement, to alter sick leave arrangements. IMPACT and other unions won major protections for staff in subsequent talks and in two Labour Court recommendations on the issue. These include:

  • Original management proposals to cut leave in critical illness cases (to six months full pay followed by three months half pay) were successfully resisted.
  • Unions ensured that a broad definition of ‘critical’ illness was adopted.
  • Management plans to limit the arrangement to a single critical illness or serious injury in a public servant’s career were scotched.
  • Unions ensured that managers retain limited discretion to extend paid sick leave arrangements for non-critical illnesses.
  • Schemes for occupational illnesses or injuries remain unchanged.
  • Existing arrangements, which help minimise the amount of past sick leave that’s taken into account when calculating certified sick leave eligibility, are retained.
  • Additional protections were secured for staff with pregnancy-related conditions, including assisted pregnancy.
  • Additional protections were secured for staff with disability-related conditions.
  • Unions ensured better protections for staff with very long-term illnesses if they have a realistic prospect of returning to work.
  • Unions pushed back the proposed implementation date by almost two years.

The new arrangements are now expected to come into force for most public servants in March 2014. They will apply in schools and colleges from the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

Read the IMPACT summary HERE.

Read the new critical illness protocol HERE.