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Finance - Money Matters - Guide to new sick pay entitlements

Your questions answered by Ivan Ahern

From March 31, 2014, changes to public sector sick pay entitlements formally commenced for the majority of public sector employees. So what does this mean to you?

Previously, as a public sector employee, you were typically entitled to 26 weeks (six months) full pay and 26 weeks (six months) half pay in a rolling four-year period. Once you have accumulated 52 weeks (12 months) of illness in total over a four-year period, you would have been taken off the payroll altogether.

Now that the new arrangements are in place, you have access to paid sick leave of 13 weeks (92 days) at full pay in a year followed by 13 weeks (91 days) at half pay, subject to a maximum of 26 weeks (183 days) in a rolling four-year period. The rolling four-year period is calculated by working backwards from the latest date of sick leave absence.

The only exception is in the case of ‘critical Illness’ where paid sick leave will be provided for six months full pay in a year followed by six months at half pay in a rolling four-year period.

If you go out on sick leave, your sick leave will be reviewed over a rolling fouryear period to determine if (a) you have access to paid sick leave and (b) if you do, what rate of paid sick leave applies to you.

There are two ‘look-back periods’. The first look-back period is to determine whether or not you receive sick pay. If the paid sick leave that you have already received does not exceed 183 days, ie. six months, in a rolling four-year period then you may be granted paid sick leave. If you exceed the 183 days limit, you will not be entitled to any sick pay.

The second look-back period is to determine whether full pay or half pay applies. If you have less than 183 days, your sick leave record is reviewed over the previous 12 months from the current date of absence to determine the rate of sick pay. If you have less than 92 days in the last 12 months you may be paid full pay up to 92 days, with half pay for up to a further 91 days, subject to an overall limit of 183 days of paid sick leave in a rolling four-year period.

When you have exceeded 183 days you may receive temporary rehabilitation remuneration for a further 18 months (548 days). Temporary rehabilitation remuneration was previously known as ‘pension rate of pay’. This will be based on the accrued pension had the member actually retired on grounds of ill health.

The total maximum period of sick pay including temporary rehabilitation remuneration is two years.

How might this affect you?
Example: Mary fell ill in 2011 and couldn’t work for 28 days. Then in 2013 she broke her leg and couldn’t work for a further 92 days. If Mary falls ill in 2014, under the new sick pay arrangements, she would only be entitled to 63 days at half pay.

What can you do to protect your income?
You can protect against these changes with the INMO Income Protection Scheme. The Scheme has made provision for the new arrangements. This means it will now cater for shorter-term claims that are likely to become more frequent due to the new arrangements.

The main aim of the Scheme is to protect you against the additional financial strain that unexpected illness can bring with it. The Scheme provides you with a benefit of up to 75% of your annual salary less any other income – eg. early retirement pension, temporary rehabilitation remuneration and/or State illness benefit – to which you may be entitled.

This benefit means invaluable peace of mind that you can continue to pay your regular outgoings such as mortgage, groceries, school expenses etc, while you focus on recovering. With the new public sector sick pay arrangements, it’s more important than ever to protect your income.

To find out more about the INMO Income Protection Scheme, please contact Cornmarket at Tel: 01-4708084 or log on to www.cornmarket.ie

Ivan Ahern, Director, Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd. Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd.

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Finance - Money Matters - Guide to new sick pay entitlements
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