Sick pay scheme
Last updated: 1 September 2015
a) This is a scheme to supplement Incapacity Benefit by the payment of allowances during absence from work through sickness, disease or disablement arising either:
- in the normal course or through accident not associated with employment with a local authority hereinafter called 'normal sickness') or
- out of and in the course of such employment, but not attributable to an employee’s own misconduct (hereinafter referred to as 'industrial disease or accident')
Absence shall be regarded as due to industrial disease or accident when it accords with the provisions of paragraph 25 - Industrial disease or accident.
b) The Scheme is intended to secure that, during such absence and for the periods referred to paragraph 5 - Allowance - the employee shall receive by way of the allowance and Incapacity Benefit not more than the sum of his or her normal earnings, as defined in paragraph 7 - Normal earnings. Any other state benefit or pension which an employee would receive when at work is not affected by this Scheme.
2. Conditions for admission to scheme
a) Medical examination
- As a condition of admission to the Scheme, a local authority may require an employee on engagement, to submit to a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner nominated by the Authority, and to be recommended by such medical practitioner for admission, provided that this condition shall not apply to an employee who had, prior to commencing date of this Scheme, been admitted to an existing scheme and had remained continuously employed with a local authority. The local authority shall notify the employee in writing if, after such a medical examination, the employee is not admitted to the Scheme.
- In the absence of such a requirement or such a notice by the authority, an employee shall be deemed to be admitted to the Scheme subject to having established the qualification for benefit referred to in paragraph (b) below.
- The following shall count as service for the purpose of qualifying for entitlement:
- Service with any public authority to which the Superannuation Interchange Rules apply
- Periods of unpaid sickness absence or other unpaid leave of absence so long as the engagement continues.
- 'Service' means continuous service, save that a break in service of less than six weeks shall be disregarded. If any one break in service extends to more than six weeks, service prior to such break and any other service which has been disallowed for the purpose of sick pay entitlement shall not be taken into account for the purpose of calculating continuous service.
- Any break in service before taking up employment with the local authority must not exceed six weeks.
3. Sickness and accident allowances as separate entitlements
The allowances in respect of (a) normal sickness and (b) absence due to industrial disease or accident are entirely separate and periods of absence in respect of one shall not be set against the other for the purpose of paragraph 6 - Calculation of period of allowance - of the Scheme.
4. Employees excluded from the scheme on medical grounds
Where an employee, excluded from the Scheme on medical grounds, is absent due to industrial disease or accident, the employee shall be entitled to an allowance as if he or she had been admitted to the Scheme.
a) Within any span of 12 months, payment of allowance shall be for the following periods according to length of service.
- During 1st year of service – 1 month’s full pay and (after completing 4 months’ service) 2 months’ half pay
- During 2nd year of service – 2 months’ full pay and 2 months’ half pay
- During 3rd year of service – 4 months’ full pay and 4 months’ half pay
- During 4th & 5th year of service – 5 months’ full pay and 5 months’ half pay
- After 5 years – 6 months’ full pay and 6 months’ half pay
Provided that a local authority may, at its discretion, extend the period of allowance in an individual case if the circumstances so justify.
(b) In the case of 'full pay' periods the allowances shall be of an amount which, when added to:
- Sickness benefit receivable under the Social Security Acts 1975-1982
- Incapacity Benefit
- Compensation payments under the Workmen’s Compensation Acts and for the Employers’ Liability Acts, or
- Any payments under any Acts amending, altering or affecting those Acts or at Common Law will secure the employee the equivalent of normal earnings as defined in paragraph 7 - Normal earnings
c) In the case of 'half pay' periods the allowance is:
- Where an employee is entitled to Incapacity Benefit, a sum equal to half normal earnings as defined in paragraph 7 plus an amount equivalent to the Incapacity Benefit entitlement and other benefits receivable under paragraph 5(b)(iii) and (iv), so long as the total sum does not exceed normal earnings as defined in paragraph 7.
- Where an employee is excluded from Incapacity Benefit, a sum equal to half normal earnings as defined in paragraph 7, provided that it does not, when added to any benefits receivable under paragraph 5(b), exceed normal earnings as defined in paragraph 7.
d) For employees subject to retaining fee arrangements during periods of the year when schools are closed, the period of entitlement to allowance during their fourth and subsequent years’ service shall be 20 weeks full pay and 20 weeks’ half pay.
Note: The words 'state benefit' and 'sickness benefit' shall be deemed to include invalidity benefit under the Social Security Acts 1975-1982, where receivable.
6. Calculation of period of allowance
a) The period during which the allowance shall be paid in respect of any period of absence shall be ascertained by deducting from the employee’s entitlement any period, or the aggregate of periods, of paid absence during the 12 months immediately preceding the first day of absence. As provided in paragraph 3, sickness absence and absence due to industrial disease or accident shall be treated separately for this purpose.
b) A period of absence due to injury sustained by an employee for which damages are recovered from a third party shall be treated on terms of paragraph 16 - Accident third party claim - of the Scheme.
7. Normal earnings
a) For the purposes of this Section normal earnings are the earnings that would be paid during a period of normal working but excluding:
- casual overtime payments
- casual standby payments
- payment of a higher grade rate than an employees’ normal rate of wages where on the day immediately prior to absence due to sickness the employee has been receiving that payment for less than four weeks and
b) In respect of subsequent account of sickness or industrial disease or accident as defined in paragraph 25 - Industrial disease or accident - a higher earner shall be entitled as part of normal earnings to a sum equal to his/her average bonus earnings. This is to be determined by reference to the average bonus earned per hour over the preceding three months or any other period agreed locally. For an employee in receipt of a self-financing lead-in payment, as provided for in National Section 3, paragraph 3, there shall be paid, as part of normal earnings, a sum equal to his/her lead-in payment.
8. National insurance benefit and incapacity benefit
The National Insurance Benefit and Incapacity Benefit to be taken into account for the calculation of the allowance shall be the full benefit to which the employee is entitled on the basis that the employee has satisfied, so far as is possible, the contribution conditions and, so far as the employee is required by the employing authority to do so, the conditions for the reporting of sickness and the claiming of benefit and Incapacity Benefit under the relevant legislation. The employee shall be under an obligation to declare his or her entitlement to benefit and any subsequent alterations in circumstances affecting such entitlement.
9. Widows and married women opting out of National Insurance
Widows and married women exercising their right to be excepted from the payment of full rate National Insurance contributions shall be deemed to be insured in their own right for all National Insurance benefits detailed. Widows and married women exercising such a right are entitled to receive Incapacity Benefit.
10. Disablement pensions – treatment allowances
Where an employee enters hospital and receives a treatment allowance, the dependency element only of the treatment allowance shall be taken into account for the calculation of the allowance and the employee’s personal element shall be ignored.
11. State and Incapacity Benefits excess
Where the total of State benefits and Incapacity Benefit paid to an employee exceeds the amount of benefits received by an employee during a week of full normal employment that excess shall be taken into account in calculating an allowance under the Sick Pay Scheme. However, where a widow or widowed mother has opted out of paying full National Insurance contributions the amount taken into account when calculating an allowance under the sick pay scheme will be the amount by which total state benefit and Incapacity Benefit receivable had full contributions been paid exceeds the benefit received by an employee in a week of full normal employment.
12. Employment not attracting NI (Health) contributions
Where an employment does not attract a National Insurance contribution it shall nevertheless be regarded as attracting State benefit or the minimum level of Incapacity Benefit for the purpose of calculating an allowance under this scheme.
13. Employee whose wife is working
When, as a result of his wife being at work, a husband receives no allowance for her in the calculations of his State benefit, only the benefit actually receivable shall be taken into account in the calculation of the allowance
14. Sickness during holidays
a) Where an employee is receiving sickness pay he or she should continue to receive such pay if a public or extra-statutory holiday occurs during sick leave. Where an employee has exhausted his or her period of entitlement to sickness pay, no payment should be made (other than Incapacity Benefit if applicable) in respect of a public or extra-statutory holiday occurring during the period of sick leave.
b) An employee absent on unpaid sickness leave is not entitled to payment in lieu of a public or extra-statutory holiday falling during such absence, save in the case of an employee excluded on medical grounds shall be entitled to holiday pay in respect of public or extrastatutory holidays occurring during the portion of sickness absence in respect of which, had the employee been admitted to the Scheme, he or she would have received an allowance.
c) An employee who falls sick during the course of annual leave shall be regarded as being on sick leave from the date of a doctor’s statement and shall be entitled to take the balance of holiday at a later date after return to work, provided the balance of holiday is taken before the 31 March following the absence.
d) The special payment to be made to an employee in the School Meals Service during a school holiday is a payment during a period of non-employment. In the case of an employee who is absent due to sickness immediately prior to the commencement of a school holiday period, sickness pay shall cease at the beginning of the school holiday period and the special payment shall commence. Similarly, an employee who is sick during the school holidays is not entitled to sickness allowance and will continue to receive the special payment. The amount of State benefit receivable shall not be deducted from the special payment. However, where an employee has an entitlement to Incapacity Benefit the employee will receive a sum equal to the special payment plus an amount equivalent to the Incapacity Benefit entitlement.
15. Exclusion from benefit
a) An employee whose absence on account of sickness is due or attributable to:
- the employee’s own misconduct or
- active participation in sport as a profession or
- injury while working in the employee’s own time on his or her own account for private gain, or for another employer, shall not be entitled to an allowance under this Scheme, except at the discretion of the employing authority
b) Where the absence is due to participation in sport as an amateur, the employee shall be entitled to an allowance. Where the employee is covered for this risk by a form of insurance or other benefit which includes an element in respect of loss of wages, the local authority shall be entitled, if desired, to take account of such element in assessing the allowance.
16. Accident – third party claim
a) An employee who is absent as a result of an accident shall not be entitled to an allowance if damages may be receivable from a third party. In this event, the authority may, having regard to the circumstances of the case, advance to the employee a sum not exceeding the allowance provided under this Scheme, subject to the employee undertaking to refund, from any damages received, the total amount of such allowance or such part thereof as the authority may, having regard to the amount of damages recovered, determine after consultation with the employee or the representative of the employee.
b) In the event of an employee being dissatisfied at the determination by the authority, the matter may be referred, either jointly or at the request of either party, to the Joint Secretaries of the National Council for advice. Any period of absence in such a case where a refund of the monies advanced is made in full shall not be taken into account for the purpose of paragraph 6 of the Scheme. Where however, the refund is made in part only, the employing authority may at its discretion decide to what extent, if any, the period of absence shall be taken into account for the purpose of paragraph 6 - Calculation of period of allowance - above.
17. Certification of sickness
a) An employee shall not be entitled to claim an allowance unless:
- notification is made immediately to the officer prescribed for this purpose by the authority
- further notification is furnished to the authority as may be required but not later than the fourth day of absence
- a doctor’s statement is furnished to the authority not later than the eighth calendar day of absence
- subsequent doctor’s statements are submitted to the authority at the same intervals as they are required for national insurance purposes in those cases where the sickness absence extends beyond the period covered by the initial statement and at similar intervals during a period of entitlement to Incapacity Benefit
- on return to work a statement is signed detailing the reasons for all absences up to and including seven days
b) In cases where the first doctor’s statement covers a period exceeding fourteen days or where more than one statement is necessary, the employee must, before returning to work, obtain a final statement as to fitness to resume duties.
- Production to the authority of the official statement(s) required by the Department of Health and Social Care shall be permissible.
- A local authority may, at is discretion, accept a statement of a Christian Science practitioner in a particular case according to its merits.
- Absence on account of sickness on the day before or day following a public or extra-statutory holiday must be supported by a self certificate.
18. Medical examination during period of absence
(a) An employee shall, if required at any time, submit to a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner nominated by the authority, subject to the provisions of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 where applicable. In the event of a difference in medical opinion as to the employee’s fitness for work, the matter shall, at the request of the authority or of the employee, be submitted to an independent medical referee chosen jointly by the authority and its employee.
(b) In the event of the referee pronouncing the employee as fit to resume work, the allowance under the Scheme shall cease with effect from the date on which the referee determines that the employee should return to work.
19. Payments not to admit liability
Under Workmen's Compensation Acts
Any payments under this Scheme, shall not be an admission of liability under the Workmen’s Compensation Acts, the Employers’ Liability Acts and Acts amending, altering or affecting those Acts or at Common Law.
a) This Scheme shall apply to a part-time employee in regular employment with a local authority as the employee’s sole employment.
b) A local authority may apply the scheme to a part-time employee with other employment on such terms, including deduction of National Insurance benefit, as it may be decided. This provision is not intended to exclude such part-time employees from the Scheme but rather as a form of protection to the employing authority against the risk incidental to other employment and as cover for the position in relation to National Insurance benefits. There will be a presumption in favour of inclusion in the Scheme:
- if consent to other employment is given by the authority and if satisfactory arrangements are made with the other employer, if necessary, as to recovery of benefit for the days in respect of which an allowance under the scheme is paid
- if the employee works for another employer concurrently and the employment is separate and distinct, there is liability for the employee’s contributions in each employment and the contributions are payable in each regardless of the amount paid in other employments
(Each employment has its own earnings period, for example weekly contributions may be paid in one and monthly contributions in the other.)
Where, however, an employee receives separate entitlements to Incapacity Benefit under more than one contract of employment the authority will offset any such payments only in respect of the contract(s) of employment with that employee to which it is a party. Where a local authority decides not to admit such a part-time employee to the Scheme, notice in writing to that effect shall be given.
21. Personal injury allowances to merge
Any allowance under this Scheme shall be reduced by an amount equivalent to any monies received by an employee under any scheme made under the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Acts.
22. Contact with infections diseases
a) An employee who is not incapable of work, but who is deemed in accordance with the Social Security Acts 1975-1982 to be incapable of work, shall be entitled to an allowance under the Scheme, for this purpose paragraph 2(b) of the Scheme shall not apply.
b) A period of absence on this account shall not be reckoned against the employee’s entitlement to allowance during absence due to normal sickness or industrial disease or accident.
23. Victims of crimes of violence
a) Where an employee is absent from work because of an injury in respect of which a claim will be to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and where the employee is otherwise qualified to receive sickness and accident allowances in accordance with the Scheme, an accident allowance shall be disbursed to the employee without a requirement to refund any portion of it from any sum which the Compensation Board may award.
b) Where an award has been made by the Compensation Board, the employing authority may discount, wholly or partly, the period of absence occasioned by the injury in calculating the employee’s future entitlement to sickness and accident allowances as the authority may see fit on consideration of all the material circumstances.
Note: Hospital Outpatients
The National Council does not propose to make any regulations covering the payments to be made to employees required to attend hospital as out-patients after the expiration of periods of sick leave. It is recommended that local authorities sympathetically consider cases of this kind on their respective merits.
24. Reimbursement of cost of doctors' statements
Where for the purpose of qualifying for an allowance under this Scheme an authority requires a doctor’s statement from an employee, the authority shall reimburse the employee the cost of such a statement on provision of a receipt.
25. Industrial disease or accident
Where an employee is absent from work as a result of an industrial disease or accident (as defined in paragraph 1[a]) the employee shall be entitled to the provisions of the sickness pay scheme relating to the industrial disease or accident, provided that the employee has complied with the following conditions:
a) Any accident arising out of an in the course of employment with the authority must be reported and recorded in accordance with the procedures laid down by the authority. The accident will be subject to investigation and report by an officer authorised for the purpose by the authority.
b) Where an employee seeks medical advice about an illness which is suspected or alleged to result from the nature of his or her employment the employee reports accordingly to the authority at the first opportunity.
c) Certification of absence due to industrial disease or accident is made as required under the provisions of paragraph 17.
d) In the case of the first, and any subsequent absence, due to industrial disease or accident an employee shall submit, at any time during such absence, if so required by the employing authority to a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner nominated by the authority. In the event that the authority’s doctor is not satisfied that the absence is due to an industrial disease or accident the employee shall have right of appeal to an independent medical referee chosen jointly by the authority and the employee.
e) Failure to meet these conditions will render the employee liable to exclusion from the provisions of the occupational sickness pay scheme relating to industrial disease or accident. However, the employee shall have right of appeal through the normal machinery where differences arise out of application of this paragraph. Temporary Injury Allowance – see MOA Article 52.