The Department of Education is softening the impact of controversial changes in cover for teacher absences proposed in Croke Park II.
In the first instance, the dep-artment says the changes will be phased in over two years, rather than there being full implementation from September.
The clarification follows lobbying from the teacher unions, particularly the INTO, and discussions that continued after the main negotiations concluded some weeks ago.
The Labour Relations Commission proposals provide that teachers would have to work extra hours providing supervision and substitution cover, and that the scheme would be expanded to include different types of absences.
The new arrangements would see teachers covering for absences such as uncertified sick leave and official school business absences, as well as the first day of each absence for certified sick leave, death-in-family leave, 'force majeure' leave and illness-in-family leave.
The clarification comes as teacher unions' ballot on the Croke Park II proposals gets under way, with the two second-level unions, the ASTI and TUI, calling for a 'no' vote. INTO has made no recommendation.
Meanwhile, the union representing higher-paid civil servants has called on its members to give an "emphatic no" to the new deal. The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) is advising its 2,700 members to reject the deal, saying it unfairly targets those on salaries of over €65,000.
And the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU), which has 1,500 members in the public service, has backed the proposals – although it warned the Government that the new deal represents "a line in the sand".