Teachers are seeking to have more time off to grieve after the loss of a loved one, describing the current five days as “cruel”.
The annual conference of the Teachers Union of Ireland, which represents teachers in post-primary schools and lecturers in institutes of technology, heard how teachers want to get longer bereavement leave after the loss of immediate family members.
Teachers who lose a spouse, partner, child, or parent are allowed five days’ consecutive leave, including a Saturday and Sunday. Civil servants, by way of comparison, get 20 days for similar family bereavements.
Delegate Mary Quaid told the conference she lost her son on a June Bank Holiday, but if the tragedy had occurred during the school year, she wouldn’t have been able to return to work.
Bill Kavanagh, a lecturer at Cork Institute of Technology, said he proposed this motion after a colleague, whose wife was terminally ill, asked HR about time off. He was told he would only get five days off after she passed away.
“You have to look at how it affects people. I would like to support this motion and redouble our efforts to get something done on it,” Mr Kavanagh said.
The conference heard how this proposal has previously been rejected by the Department of Education due to the issue of costs.
Other speakers said it was unfair on children to have a teacher forced to come into school when they are not in the right frame of mind.
Up to five days may be taken in the event of an immediate family member’s death and a maximum of three days following the death of a near relative, in-law or a member of their religious community.