Dáil debates

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Ceisteanna - Questions - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Covid-19 Pandemic

9:00 am

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for her question. The position in respect of Covid-19 absences in the public service has not changed since her previous question on the matter, which was answered in January. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was decided that special leave with pay would be used for self-isolation or a diagnosis of Covid-19 for public service employees in order to assist with the prevention of the onward spread of Covid in the workplace. The arrangements relating to special leave with pay are reviewed and monitored by my Department on an ongoing basis, taking into account the evolving circumstances and public health advice.

The Government agreed Ireland's plan for the next and final phase of our response to the Covid pandemic and published its Covid-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting plan on 31 August. Subject to the continued progress we have seen as a result of the vaccination programme, and all of our efforts in preventing the spread of Covid, we will enter a final phase on 22 October. This phase will see the majority of restrictions lifted and replaced by guidance and advice to enable us to work together to protect ourselves and to live our lives to the fullest extent possible.

We have provided support for our public service employees, including our front-line workforce, through the provision of special leave with pay for Covid-19. The current arrangements, like all other Covid-19-related policies and regulations, will be reviewed and will be subject to amendment as we see the continued benefits of the vaccination programme as we enter the next and final phase of this pandemic. My officials are keeping all Covid-related working arrangements for public service employees under regular review. Although special leave with pay is available for self-isolation and where a person has been diagnosed with Covid for certain time periods, public service employees may access the public service sick leave scheme thereafter. The scheme provides for certain payments to staff during periods of absence from work due to illness or injury.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

It provides for 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. There is access to additional sick leave in certain circumstances as guided by the critical illness protocol.


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