Public service sick pay cut by 50%

From Wednesday, public servants will see their sick pay cut significantly thanks to an almost two-year-old Labour Court ruling.

Both certified and uncertified sick-leave entitlement has been halved thanks to a binding 2012 recommendation from the court which take effect from Jan 1.

Up to now, state employees on normal certified sick leave for non-critical illnesses were entitled to six months’ full-pay followed by six months’ half-pay in a rolling four-year period. Those who did not return then received a pension or rehabilitation rate — an income based on their accrued pension benefits without added years.

However, from Jan 1 the entitlement is cut to three months’ full-pay followed by three months’ half-pay. The rehabilitation rate, meanwhile, is limited to 18 months.

Those on certified sick leave for critical illness or serious physical injuries are to retain their entitlement to six months’ full-pay followed by six months’ half-pay in a rolling four-year period. Management had tried to cut the six months’ half-pay for that category of worker to three months.

Anyone on sick leave as the new rates kick in will continue to avail of the old sick leave scheme and will still have access to six months full pay and six months half pay over the rolling four-year period for the duration of the particular illness.

At the time the Labour Court recommendation emerged in 2012, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said the cost of sick leave at almost €500 million per annum was “not sustainable”.

The cost of sick leave across the public service dropped by 10% in the three years between 2010 and 2012, though not in the civil service, where it actually increased by more than 13%. Figures released by the Department of Public Expenditure in September showed that sick leave among the State’s employees cost €447.4m in 2012. That was broken down into €401.4m for certified sick leave and €46m for uncertified leave.

The corresponding total for 2010 was €494m — €433.1m certified and €56.9m uncertified.

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