Written answers

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Department of Health

Departmental Staff

5:00 pm

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Question 245: To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the procedures in place to manage sick leave in her Department; the sick leave entitlement in place in her Department; the combined amount of sick days taken by staff in her Department in 2011 and to date in 2012; the financial cost of this sick leave;; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31558/12]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Procedures for the management of sick leave in my Department are in accordance with Department of Finance circulars, in particular Circulars 25/78 and 09/2010. These arrangements recognise that staff may from time to time encounter challenges to their health and well-being and that management of sick leave must be done in a fair and consistent manner with the objective of addressing the cause of the sick leave and ensuring regular attendance. Managers responsibilities under these circulars include: Being clear on the subject of attendance expectations; Ensuring an efficient and effective workplace culture; Assisting in the maintenance of a motivational atmosphere; Maintaining supportive contact with officers on sick leave and conducting sick leave review meetings as appropriate on their return to work.

Staff are obliged to provide regular and effective service and have a responsibility for their own sick leave and in particular adherence to the sick leave regulations. They must also: Comply with all office instructions regarding health and safety; Be familiar and comply with the sick leave regulations/policy; Maintain regular contact with the Department during periods of sick absence; Take all reasonable measures where possible to manage health and well-being with a view to returning to full health; and Co-operate fully with all rehabilitative measures to facilitate an early return to work. In general, full pay during properly certified sick absence, provided there is no evidence of permanent disability for service, may be allowed up to a maximum of six months in one year and half pay thereafter, subject to a maximum of twelve month's sick leave in any period of four years or less. Sick leave for single or two-day absences, in total not exceeding seven days in any period of twelve months, may be granted without medical certificate. Management information systems are in place to to record, monitor and analyse patterns of sick leave. Failure to comply with the sick leave regulations in considered as serious misconduct and the disciplinary code may be invoked. Abuse of sick leave arrangements may lead to penalties including withholding salary increments, withdrawal of sick leave privileges and ultimately dismissal.

Repeated short term absences are carefully monitored and may be referred to the Chief Medical Officer for the Civil Service (CMO). The CMO's Office incorporates the Civil Service Occupational Health Department (CSOHD) and all long term absences, defined as an absence greater than 4 weeks duration, are also forwarded to the CSOHD for review. This office provides advice on medical fitness for work as well as any work modifications or interventions that will facilitate an early return to work.

During 2011, a total of 1,155 days were lost in my Department due to absence with an associated cost estimated at €0.188m. To date in 2012, 741 days have been lost due to absence at an estimated cost of €0.140m.


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