Review Of Public Service Sick Leave Scheme - Proposed Changes
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) commenced its Review of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme in 2016. The Review produced a number of recommendations which have since formed the basis of negotiations between DPER and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. INMO General Secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, represented the Organisation as part of the wider trade union group.
The parties reached agreement on a number of the Recommendations, however, agreement could not be reached in relation to the proposed changes to the payment of Temporary Rehabilitation Remuneration (TRR) and this matter was the subject of a Labour Court Hearing which took place on 28th September 2018. The Court has now issued its Recommendation.
The current arrangements in relation to TRR (previously pension-related pay) is that it may be granted where an employee remains unfit for work and has exhausted sick pay entitlements (183) days. There must be a realistic prospect of return to work and the employee must have at least 5 years’ pensionable reckonable service at the date of application. The rate of TRR is based on what an employee would receive if he/she was retiring on ill health grounds. Sick absence during which an employee is in receipt of TRR is not counted towards service for pension purposes.
The Public Service Committee of Congress were unable to agree with the TRR proposed changes put forward by DPER, which included the following:
- that TRR be paid at a percentage of salary;
- TRR be included towards the threshold of 183 days for the purpose of determining access to sick leave (at full and half pay); and
the waiting period for payment of TRR after full and half rates of sick pay have been exhausted.
- the waiting period for payment of TRR after full and half rates of sick pay have been exhausted should be three days;
- the rate of TRR should be 37.5%; and
- for the purposes of the ‘look back’ full account should be taken of periods of benefit under TRR.
The Court also recommended that where employees are currently afforded a rate of TRR greater than 37.5%, they should retain their current arrangements for a period of five years.
In relation to the waiting period for payment of TRR there are a variety of practices across the public service ranging from 28 days to no wait. A standard waiting period is now recommended by the Labour Court of three days.
In addition, there are varying practices across the public service of counting or discounting or extending TRR in the four year ‘look back’ period. The Court has now recommended that TRR is counted.
The qualifying period for access to TRR was previously agreed between the parties to be reduced from five years to two years.
It is important to note that prior to the Labour Court Hearing the parties had previously agreed that there will be no waiting period for payment of TRR where TRR arises immediately following a continuous long-term absence. Neither will there be a waiting period during the ‘protected period’ after return from an illness covered by the critical illness protocol. Changes to the Critical Illness Provisions were previously agreed between the parties and became effective from 31 March 2018. These changes provided for revised Critical Illness Protocol, the introduction of Critical Illness Protocol Managerial Discretion Guidelines and the CIP Protective to begin on the date of return to work instead of the first date of absence.
Other matters which were agreed between the parties were in relation to:
- absences due to injury for which compensation is received from a third party: and
- TRR rate being based on pensionable remuneration.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) have committed to drafting key principles and parameters regarding this issue.
Further engagement is now to take place with DPER and final proposals on all matters will then be prepared and are likely to be implemented early in 2019.
If you have any questions arising from this note please contact the INMO information office and further updates will issue once the final composite proposals issue.
Thank you for your attention.
Phil Ni Sheaghdha