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Tuesday 30 May 2023 Dublin: 15°C
John Stillwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images
# Sick Leave
Explainer: How much sick leave can civil servants take?
Here’s what the official regulations say…

IT EMERGED TODAY that the cost of sick leave in Government departments came to just over €26.5million last year.

But how much leave are civil service employees allowed to take? The fundamental limits are set out in a Department of Finance circular (pdf here) from 1978. We’ve picked out the key figures for you.

Permanent employees are limited to seven days uncertified (ie without a doctor’s note) sick leave in any 12-month period.

However, this can only consist of absences of one or two days. Anyone out of work for longer than two days must provide a medical certificate.

If employees have a medical certificate, they can receive full pay for the first six months they are off sick. After this their pay is reduced to half. However, “as a general rule” a single medical certificate is only valid for one week’s absence.

There is a maximum of 12 months’ certified sick leave in any four-year period – though this can be extended, without pay, in certain instances.

In the civil service, anyone taking time off sick must notify their superior in writing on the first day they are absent.

Managers in Government departments are also given guidelines (pdf here) on how to manage sick leave and prevent abuse.

The 1978 circular notes that “special sick pay conditions may be applied in respect of absence due to tuberculosis”.

Private sector

In the private sector, there are currently no laws compelling employers to provide sick pay. However, workers with sufficient social insurance contributions – and who have no entitlements at their workplace – can apply for Illness Benefit from the Department of Social Protection.

If any worker – public or private – is ill during their annual leave, and has a medical certificate, these days do not count as holiday and can be taken again at a later date. The same applies for anyone certified as sick during a public holiday.

Read: The annual bill for sick leave in the civil service>

Poll: Should a doctor’s note be needed for all sick days?>

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