Thursday 21 September 2017

Gardaí lose sick leave appeal battle

Gardaí have lost a battle against 'draconian' new rules brought in to slash the €500m public service sick pay bill. Stock picture
Gardaí have lost a battle against 'draconian' new rules brought in to slash the €500m public service sick pay bill. Stock picture

Anne-Marie Walsh and Tim Healy

Gardaí have lost a battle against "draconian" new rules brought in to slash the €500m public service sick pay bill.

The Court of Appeal has found they should remain subject to regulations that halve the amount of sick leave paid to State employees when off work due to illness. It dismissed an appeal by the Garda Representative Body (GRA).

The GRA said gardaí should be exempt from the rules because their jobs are high- pressured. It argued that they always got better treatment than other public servants under the old sick leave regime. As a result, they said Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin did not have the power to make the regulations without exempting them.

A three-judge Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal yesterday.

However, taxpayers face a bill expected to run to hundreds of thousands of euro as the court upheld a High Court decision that the department pay the GRA's costs. This is because the department submitted documents late in the trial.

Exempted

Among them was an email from the General Secretary of IMPACT, Shay Cody, in which he warned he would ballot for industrial action if gardaí were exempted from the rules.

The GRA said it was disappointed by the court's decision, but pledged to "explore other legal avenues" as the court acknowledged that the sick leave rules lack clarity.

"A claim could be made by a GRA member for example," said GRA President, Dermot O'Brien. "These are draconian measures. It was a political decision made through interference by other trade unionists.

"They are within their rights to make interjections on behalf of members, but not our members."

He claimed some gardaí on long-term sick leave received no pay although the regulations said "temporary rehabilitation remuneration" should be paid.

Irish Independent

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