Saoire Bhreoiteachta

Public Service Sick Leave Scheme

The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) (Amendment) Act 2013 was enacted in December 2013 and provides the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with the power to make regulations that will set out specific details of the new Sick Leave Scheme for the Public Service. The details of this Scheme are set out in Public Service Management (Sick Leave) Regulations (SI 124 of 2014) and Public Service Management (Sick Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 SI 384 of 2015. A Guide to the Regulations is available and must be read in conjunction with the Regulations.

Public Service Sick Leave Statistics

The Public Service Sick Leave Statistics for 2018  show the rate of sick leave is 4.2% and on average 9.2  working days were taken per Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) in the Public Service. The overall cost of sick leave in the Public Service is estimated at €381.5million for 2018 which represents a cumulative saving of €156.4 million since 2013.

Detailed Statistics and Trends for 2018 show sick leave rates since the introduction of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme which came into effect in the majority of sectors on 31st March 2014 and the Education Sector on 1st  September 2014. Please see also Public Service Sick Leave Statistics for 2017 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Rates of sick leave for the Civil Service broken down by organisation are also available for  2018 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

The Final Report of the Review of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme can be accessed here.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform carried out a comprehensive review of the operation of the Scheme and this was completed in July 2016 and made 17 recommendations for change.  Consultations in relation to the recommendations for change between DPER and the Public Sector Unions and Associations took place from September 2016 to June 2018. Recommendations of the Review, other than those that went before the Labour Court in November 2018, have been agreed to by the Public Sector Unions and Associations and some have already been implemented. The matters before the Court were the elements of the Sick Leave Scheme that were not standardised in 2014 when the Scheme was first introduced. The outcome on the standardisation of these elements of the Scheme was the subject of a Labour Court ruling in November 2018 and these are in the process of being implemented across the Public Service.

Sick Leave in the Civil Service

The administrative arrangements for the Civil Service are set out in Circular 05 of 2018 and must be read in conjunction with the Regulations.

Paid Sick Leave

The new scheme provides for the payment of the following to staff during periods of absence from work due to illness or injury:

  • A maximum of 92 days on full pay in a rolling one year period
  • Followed by a maximum of 91 days on half pay in a rolling one year period
  • Subject to a maximum of 183 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period

Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration

Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration (TRR) was formerly referred to as Pension Rate of Pay (PRP) and will be calculated and awarded in the same way. It will only be payable when there is a realistic prospect of an individual returning to work. The key change in the move from PRP to TRP is that the maximum period for which TRR can be paid is 547 days under ordinary sick leave arrangements.

Critical Illness Provisions (CIP)

In recognition of the fact that, sometimes, a longer period of sick leave can be required to address a critical illness or serious physical injury, there is provision for the following to apply in exceptional circumstances:

  • A maximum of 183 days on full pay in a rolling one year period
  • Followed by a maximum of 182 days on half pay in a rolling one year period
  • Subject to a maximum of 365 days paid sick leave in a rolling four year period

There will be access to TRR under the CIP as follows:

  • 365 days on TRR
  • a further period not exceeding 730 days may be granted in cases where the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has confirmed that there is a reasonable prospect of return to work. Such cases must be directly linked to the critical illness and will normally follow a continuous period of long term sick leave. This is subject to six monthly reviews.

Granting of Critical Illness Provisions

The decision to grant extended paid sick leave for a critical illness, injury or condition is made by the HR Manager in the Department/Office and is based on medical advice from the CMO and all the circumstances of the case.

The Critical Illness Protocol (CIP) sets out the criteria which must be met in order to be granted access to critical illness provisions.

The CIP has been revised with effect from the 31st of March 2018. There have been changes made to the medical criteria as set out below.

The Occupational Physician, (the Chief Medical Officer), will advise whether, in their opinion, the following criteria are met:

(i) The employee is medically unfit to return to his or her current duties or (where practicable) modified duties in the same pay grade

(ii) The nature of this medical condition has at least one of the following characteristics:

(a) Acute life threatening physical illness

(b) Chronic progressive illness, with well-established potential to reduce life expectancy

(c) Major physical trauma ordinarily requiring corrective acute operative surgical treatment

(d) In-patient or day hospital care of ten consecutive days or greater[1].

Civil servants who wish to apply for CIP must fill out a CIP Application Form and submit it to their HR Manager.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in relation to the new Scheme in the Civil Service are available here.


[1] In the case of pregnancy-related illness (natural or assisted pregnancy), the requirement for hospitalisation of two consecutive weeks will be reduced to two or more consecutive days of in-patient hospital / clinic care.