Thursday 17 October 2019

'We get just five days to grieve' - teachers make call for longer bereavement leave


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Stock photo
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Secondary school teachers will seek a change in the rules around bereavement leave, arguing their current arrangements fall well behind what is allowed in the civil service.

Teachers who lose a spouse, partner, child, or parent are allowed five days' consecutive leave, including a Saturday and Sunday, if that is the way it falls.

But the annual conference of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) heard that civil servants may take 20 days' leave for similar family bereavements.

A motion adopted by the conference calls for an extension from five to seven days, so that teachers would have five working days off.

Proposing the motion, Drogheda delegate Dave Carolan said that his father died on a Wednesday, which meant that, under the terms of the circular, he was expected to be back at work the following Monday.

He said that "luckily, because of my school, this was not an issue".

He said that teaching was a highly relational job, involving communication with about 200 students a day and there is no space in the school day to be "vulnerable".

Mr Carolan said this period of grieving should not be consumed with a worry of having to return to work and "prepare a face".

Sean Maher, also of the Drogheda branch, told of a colleague who had to use force majeure and uncertified sick leave to grieve properly "because her father died on an 'inconvenient day' - in other words, not a Sunday - which meant she did not have five working days off."

He said teachers try to support grieving colleagues by using any free class periods they have to take their classes, but this was getting more and more difficult due to other work such as meetings, and supervision and substitution duties.

Irish Independent

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