Station's policy on sick leave comes under fire
Published 11/12/2010 | 05:00
RTE has never offered sick leave to its self-employed broadcasters, including Gerry Ryan, it emerged last night.
The revelation comes after his partner Melanie Verwoerd claimed that the broadcaster was afraid to take time off when ill because of changes the station made to its sick leave policy.
She told an inquest into the deceased 'Operation Transformation' presenter's death that this meant that Mr Ryan felt he should turn up for work when he was not feeling well.
But sources said the station had not changed its policy on sick leave, has never offered it to contracted self-employed staff and is not legally obliged to.
RTE declined to comment on Ms Verwoerd's remarks, but it is understood that senior colleagues were disappointed by the suggestions that pressure or a change in policy around 'sick leave' may have been an issue between them.
Sources said there was no policy change at the station although presenters had been reminded of the contract provision over the last year.
It is unknown whether Mr Ryan would have been paid for the days he was absent from work, if these rules were not strictly enforced.
As a fee-paid self-employed contractor, Mr Ryan did not have a sick leave entitlement which a staff employee would enjoy.
He would have negotiated his company fee based on a commitment to a number of days per year on air and would not receive a fee for missed days unless they were made up at another time.
RTE's policy is that where fewer days are worked than are committed to in contract, there is no fee for the days missed.
Mr Ryan was out of work for three days this year and always gave notice so a replacement presenter could be arranged.
Sources claimed he was never singled out on the issue of his attendance.
Previously, fellow presenter Marian Finucane revealed the father of five (53) was "very, very stressed" when she met him not long before his death.
Legally, even directly-employed workers have no right under legislation to be paid sick leave, which is at the discretion of the employer.
However, an employer must give an employee a written statement of the conditions of employment, including the terms relating to incapacity for work due to sickness or injury.
If a worker does not have a sick leave entitlement, they can apply for Illness Benefit if they have enough social insurance contributions.