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Substitutes get paid between €127 and €195 per day in class

WHAT is subbing work?

A substitute is called in, often at short notice, to replace a teacher who is absent due to illness. It can also be for longer-term cover, such as maternity leave.

So, what's the difference between subbing work and a temporary teaching position?

Temporary usually refers to replacement of someone on unpaid leave, such as a career break, or filling a non-permanent post, such as English language teaching.

What is the principal supposed to do if a teacher calls in sick early in the morning?

Fill the position and get a teacher in front of the class. If it's a sudden one-day absence, the class may have to be split between the other teachers in the school, but any longer and a sub must be found.

How do you find a sub?

The principal may have some phone numbers. Otherwise, the primary teachers' union, INTO, has an online subsearch facility with a list of teachers available for work in each area. There is also a 'text-a-sub' service to which principals and teachers sign up. Principals say it is sometimes impossible to find a trained teacher.

Surely there should be a proper panel from which the principal can choose a qualified teacher?

INTO has continually sought this but to no avail. Up to a few years ago, there were no surplus teachers to go on such a panel.

What is the substitute teacher paid and does this have any effect on a retired teacher's pension?

The casual rate for a trained teacher is €195.33 a day, while if the substitute is not qualified this drops to €127.91. If the trained teacher is retired and does more than 90 days subbing in a year, their pension stops.

So a retired teacher can receive €195.33 for 90 days, or about €17,775 a year, before it impacts on pension?

Maybe even more, at least up until the end of 2010. They got that for each of the first 40 days and after that the rate was based on their retiring salary, so it could have been up to €400 a day after that. Budget 2011 has changed it and, from this year, retired teachers will be paid at the minimum starting rate for qualified teachers, about €152 a day, for every day worked. So, it's still worth up to €13,680 a year.

Was this issue not sorted a few years ago when the INTO said its members would not work alongside unqualified teachers?

In 2008, INTO gave the government until 2013 to train up the teachers required to operate a sub system. There was a shortage at the time and the union allowed five years for a surplus to build up.

Did the previous education ministers -- Mary Coughlan and Batt O'Keeffe -- not tell schools that retired teachers should not be employed?

What they said was that teachers without regular work should be prioritised.

Irish Independent